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Forensic Sci Int. 2012 Mar 10;216(1-3):82-7. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.08.023. Epub 2011 Sep 17.

Reality bites--A ten-year retrospective analysis of bitemark casework in Australia.

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University of Newcastle, School of Health Sciences, Australia.


Criticism of forensic science, particularly that of bitemark analysis, has become increasingly common in the last decade. Much of the criticism directed at forensic odontology cites cases where miscarriages of justice have occurred when erroneous, over-confident or even false bitemark evidence has been tendered by odontologists. Despite Australia's own experience with such cases in the past, it is postulated that this does not represent the true nature of bitemark analysis as practiced by odontologists today-at least in this country. A review of 119 cases from the last 10 years confirms that 'identification' of a suspect is rarely, if ever, offered, and that conclusions reached by odontologists with respect to bitemark analysis are generally conservative. However, the results of this study also indicate that in a small but significant proportion of cases, there is still some tendency to reach conclusions that could be considered over-confident when considering the overall quality of the physical evidence offered. It is suggested that odontologists should avoid making conclusive remarks regarding the origin of the mark, or the identification of a perpetrator, when such comments are realistically precluded, given the low evidentiary value of the mark itself.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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