Science and 'Consistent with' Evidence

AuthorAlan D. Gold
Chapter 8
Science and “Consistent with”
    expert evidence is sometimes befuddled by what has become a
favourite phrase of prosecution experts, especially in sex abuse cases: “consistent
with.” ere are two ways in which this misleading phrase does harm. In the
context of identication and comparison issues, the phrase accurately means an
absence of dierence but is erroneously taken to mean a presence of identity. In
the dierent context of cause and eect or event and sequelae, the phrase is used
to hide logically worthless tautologies or unfavourable and damaging remote
probabilities. Essentially, some factor that might otherwise appear damaging to
the prosecution is explained away by the expert with that turn of phrase.
Regarding identication issues, it has already been noted that the concept
of “consistent with” came in for criticism for its use in the context of bre and
hair evidence adduced at one of the trials of Guy Paul Morin. One of the rel-
evant conclusions of that inquiry was that “[c]ertain terms, such as ‘match’ a nd
‘consistent with’ were used unevenly in the criminal proceedings and were pot-
entially misleading. e use of these terms contributed to misunderstanding of
the forensic ndings and their limitations.”
One of the expert witnesses who testied before that inquiry elaborated on
the problems involved in this terminology in testimony he gave in a criminal
e Honourable Fred Kaufma n, Commissioner, Report of the K aufman Commission on
Proceedings Inol ing Guy Paul Morin (Toronto: Ministry of the Attor ney General, ),
online: w ww.attorneygeneral at –. e
term “match” was also there de constructed.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT