A fundamental difference between the law and forensic science is that lawyers look to the past for guidance and scientists look to the future. A scientist once asked me on a phone interview for a job if I could see another technology replacing the Forensic DNA system we have in place and I answered that I could not. That was the wrong answer and I didn't get that job. Scientists are constantly advancing their skill set and knowledge base. They're always looking for a better way. Millions of dollars and man hours are spent each year in the sciences looking for better and more efficient ways to do things, even if the old ways are working. Why not do it better, faster, more efficiently?
The legal system is the polar opposite. They look to legal precedent for guidance on how to proceed. They maintain the status quo and do things as they've always been done. Judges and lawyers continue to do things as they've always been done until they are actually instructed by a higher court to do them differently. This is problematic for the justice system because the law isn't catching up to the science quickly enough. For example, in recent years, our scientific understanding of hair analysis has changed. We now know hair cannot be conclusively linked to source through microscopic analysis because it lacks the unique characteristics necessary to draw that type of conclusion. Bitemark evidence has faced criticism by multiple scientific bodies after several studies have indicated that type of analysis is unreliable. But judges keep admitting bitemark evidence, even though scientists have all but debunked it's scientific foundation.
Science is constantly changing and advancing and jurists need to recognize our scientific understanding is always evolving. Once, people thought the earth was flat. It's through scientific exploration that we understand that it is not flat, no matter what Kyrie Irving tells you. We CANNOT afford to maintain the status quo when it comes to forensic science. When junk science is allowed into the courtroom, injustice happens. When injustice happens, people lose faith in the system. When people lose faith in the system, all those who work hard each day away from their families and friends toil for naught. There are millions of hard working lawyers, judges, investigators and scientists working to make the criminal justice system as good as it can be, and the legal status quo isn't good enough when it comes to the science of the law.
Great work, Washington Post and @radleybalko for addressing this serious issue.