The use of information is power. When asked (by Robert Toale, a lawyer who represented Abadie and Van Winkle), about his ‘margin of error’ in bitemark analysis, Michael West said, “Something less than my savior, Jesus Christ”.
There is no sense whatsoever in challenging the so-called ‘margin of error’ a specific scientist claims, in this case a Forensic Odontologist, about his or her confidence level in the professional opinion they render in bitemark analysis. The true test is what the jury will believe. And, I might venture, since there was a ‘CSI’ episode involving a bitemark, the jury will chomp on the bait.
The legal profession, in my opinion, must claim responsibility for the admissibility of this ‘bitemark evidence’, the testimony of the biased Foresnsic Dentist who delivered it, and the verdict. Mike West was afforded the power to sway the jury, by the prosecution. I think it is a heavy burden for gate keepers to determine whether scientific evidence is valid, its relevance manufactured in the interests of sensationalism. It’s the improper use of scientific evidence in the court room, which has woefully proven to result in the loss of freedom of innocent persons who were wrongfully convicted.
Although I have the utmost esteem for my learned colleagues in the profession of Forensic Odontology, it is my prerogative NOT to do Bitemark work. It’s too subjective, and the repercussions of making a mistake, are unfathomable. I do not have to be “Board Certified” as a Forensic Odontologist to perform forensic dental identifications. Truly this calling defines the limits of my expertise.