I would begin by quoting from a statement by Judge Harry T. Edwards of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to the National Commission on Forensic Sciences at its inaugural meeting:
Judge Edwards was the cochair of the committee that authored Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward a decade ago.That Report stimulated a national discussion about the need to improve forensic science, fostered a reevaluation of how forensic evidence is reported in court, prompted increased funding for forensic science research, inspired reforms in practice and procedure for forensic science professionals, and led to reexaminations of forensic techniques that are frequently used in criminal investigations. It was my great privilege to have been part of the staff that worked for the study committee that produced Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States.
Today, I have been asked to reflect on how the Report has been received in the press and elsewhere. Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States is exceptional among the National Academies’ reports in that, ten years after its release, it remains influential in the scientific and policy communities that are the Academies’ traditional audience. Moreover, the Report continues to attract attention beyond these communities. I will use my time this morning to highlight some of the attention the Report has received in the decade since its release. What I will present represents just a fraction of coverage that we have captured in the course of our work day.
The report has been featured both on the cover of popular publications like the New York Times, Science Times, National Geographic, and Popular Mechanics and on the covers of scholarly journals like Nature and Science. The lead article in the New York Times’s Science Times feature, which was published just three months after the report was released, noted that
Seven years later, the lead article in a Science special issue described progress toward reform. It observed that although the Academies’ report
Coverage of the report has not been limited solely to print media. Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States has been featured on numerous television programs, including Frontline, NOVA, and the popular crime drama NCIS. It has even been featured on an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Although John Oliver’s show is satirical, the message of his forensic science episode was on point. For example, Oliver stated that “it’s not that all forensic science is bad, because it’s not; but, too often, its reliability is dangerously overstated.”Compare this with the Academies’ report, which said, “some forensic science disciplines are supported by little rigorous systematic research to validate the discipline’s basic premises and techniques.” And further, the Academies’ report called for “[t]he development of quantifiable measures of uncertainty in the conclusions of forensic analyses.” As of February 26, 2019, the forensic science episode of Last Week Tonight has been viewed 6.6 million times on YouTube.
The Report has also attracted the attention of people at the highest levels of government. In a 2017 Harvard Law Review article, President Obama noted that Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States “brought to light many of the challenges that the forensic sciences face in reliability and validity.”To “help ensure the validity of forensic evidence used in the Nation’s legal system” in the “aftermath” of the Academies’ Report, the Obama Administration, operating through the President’s Council of Advisor’s on Science and Technology (“PCAST”) produced a report that concluded that there was a need for clarity about the scientific standards for validity and reliability in forensic methods. There was also a need to evaluate specific forensic methods to determine whether they had been scientifically established to be valid and reliable. The PCAST 2016 report provided recommendations for strengthening “the scientific underpinnings of the forensics disciplines, as well as on actions that could be taken by the Attorney General and the Judiciary to promote the more rigorous use of these disciplines in the courtroom.”
Ten years after the Academies’ Report was published, a Los Angeles Times story titled Bad Forensic Science is Putting Innocent People in Prison referenced the “highly critical” 2009 Report, which “found a dearth of scientific backing for most forensics methods other than DNA. It cited evidence that ‘faulty forensic science analyses may have contributed to wrongful convictions of innocent people.’”“[T]he wizardry lionized by the ‘CSI’ television empire,” the article continues, “turns out to have serious flaws. The science of bite-mark comparisons, ballistic comparisons, fingerprint matching, blood-spatter analysis, arson investigation and other common forensic techniques has been tainted by systematic error, cognitive bias . . . and little or no research or data to support it.”
So where does all this leave us ten years after the publication of Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States? A recent statement by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, Chairwoman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, offers one indication:
Copyright © 2019 Steven Kendall.
† Program Officer, Committee on Science, Technology, and Law, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. This Reflection piece is adapted from remarks made at a March 6, 2019 conference at Duke Law School, made possible by the Innocence Project, Duke Law School, and the Center for Statistics and Applications to Forensic Evidence. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent positions of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
 Judge Harry T. Edwards, Reflections on the Findings of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community (Feb. 3, 2014), http://www.law.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/EdwardsSpeechtoNCFS.pdf [https://perma.cc/A6B3-F2UQ].
 Comm. on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Sci. Cmty., Nat’l Research Council of the Nat’l Acads., Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (2009), https://www.nap.edu/read/12589/chapter/2 [https://perma.cc/JG6Y-X8SN] [hereinafter Strengthening Forensic Science].
 See Media Coverage, Nat’l Acads. of Sci., Engineering, and Medicine, https://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/PGA_084144 [https://perma.cc/TS2P-Z6T8] (last updated June 29, 2017), for the Academies’ collection of media coverage on the Report.
 Henry Fountain, Plugging Holes in the Science of Forensics, N.Y. Times (May 11, 2009), https://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/science/12fore.html [https://perma.cc/U8VM-4MFD].
 Martin Enserink, Evidence on Trial, Science (May 11, 2016), https://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6278/1128 [https://perma.cc/6LXB-BR7B].
 Last Week Tonight: Forensic Evidence (HBO television broadcast Oct. 1, 2017).
 Strengthening Forensic Science, supra note 2, at 22.
 Id. at 23.
 See Last Week Tonight, Forensic Science: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO), YouTube (Oct. 21, 2017), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScmJvmzDcG0 [https://perma.cc/3YVZ-H56J].
 Barack Obama, Commentary, The President’s Role in Advancing Criminal Justice Reform, 130 Harv. L. Rev. 811, 860 (2017).
 President’s Council of Advisors on Sci. & Tech., Exec. Office of the President, Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods x–xi (2016), https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/PCAST/pcast_forensic_science_report_final.pdf [https://perma.cc/TN4M-Q5VT].
 Id. at xi.
 Edward Humes, Bad Forensic Science is Putting Innocent People in Prison, L.A. Times (Jan. 13, 2019 3:15 AM), https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-humes-forensic-evidence-20190113-story.html [https://perma.cc/Z8A2-V5JF] (quoting Strengthening Forensic Science, supra note 2, at 4).
 Press Release, Chairwoman Johnson’s Statement on Ten-Year Anniversary of Release of National Academies Forensics Study (Feb. 15, 2019), https://science.house.gov/news/press-releases/chairwoman-johnsons-statement-on-ten-year-anniversary-of-release-of-national-academies-forensics-study [https://perma.cc/7XKT-T5FX].