WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) praised the advocacy work of Jonesboro-native and renowned author John Grisham yesterday at a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing about the need to improve forensic techniques.
“Tremendous advancements in forensic sciences have greatly improved prosecutions of crimes and have brought justice to the families and loved ones of victims across the country. However, many of these techniques are not infallible. We need to look at ways we can improve a variety of forensic techniques, such as ballistics and fingerprinting, to erase the doubt mistakes raise in prosecutions and avoid wrongful convictions. That is where the tireless advocacy of John Grisham, and the expertise of the scientists who testified at the hearing, can be of great assistance,” Boozman said.
At the request of Congress, the National Academy of Sciences reviewed the state of forensic science in the United States and produced a report that highlighted many challenges facing the forensic science community. It found, with the exception of DNA analysis, no forensic method has been demonstrated with a high degree of certainty to establish a direct link between the evidence and a specific individual.
During the hearing, Boozman suggested that we explore ways to foster improvements in forensic science “without re-inventing the wheel.”
“We can bring a great deal of reform to the justice system simply by leveraging existing initiatives to promote better techniques,” Boozman said.
“Forensic science in America needs one standard of science so we can have one standard for justice. It is time for a serious commitment to provide a scientific system of support for forensic science in order to ensure ongoing evaluation and review of current and developing forensic science techniques, technologies, practices, and devices,” Grisham—who serves on the Board of Directors of the Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing—said in his opening remarks.
Boozman praised Grisham saying, “Bringing a person of Mr. Grisham’s stature before the committee truly helps shine a spotlight on this major problem within our judicial system. He has done a great deal of work to correct the tragedy of wrongful convictions based on faulty forensic evidence. Mr. Grisham’s efforts to use his expertise to advocate on behalf of those wrongfully convicted should be commended.”
After graduating from law school at the University of Mississippi in 1981, Grisham entered the legal world and practiced law for nearly a decade, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation.
Grisham is the author of the best-selling legal thrillers including A Time to Kill, The Firm, The Pelican Brief, and The Client. There are currently over 275 million of his books in print worldwide and nine of his novels have been turned into films.