Ethics in Forensic Science

1st Edition

Editors: J.C. Upshaw Downs Anjali Ranadive Swienton
Hardcover ISBN: 9780123850195
eBook ISBN: 9780123850201
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 20th March 2012
Page Count: 472
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This work will draw upon the expertise of the editors as authors and various contributors in order to present several different perspectives with the goal of approaching and understanding when ethical lines are crossed. In order to achieve this goal, comparisons of various canons of ethics from related fields such as medicine, law, the military, science and politics will be examined and applied. Case studies will be presented throughout to illustrate ethical dilemmas and challenge the reader with the goal of greater understanding.

Key Features

  • First book to comprehensively address ethics in forensics beyond the laboratory
  • Real-life cases presented involving unethical behavior to illustrate concepts
  • Discusses ethical considerations while delineating opinion from fact in testimony
  • Places forensic ethics within the canons of the legal and medical systems


Forensic professionals (i.e. pathologists, scientists, researchers, practitioners). Law enforcement professionals (i.e. police, crime scene investigators, police academies / training), academia (i.e. criminalistics courses, police science, forensic science, law and science), Tertiary: Legal professionals, those preparing to be an expert witness

Table of Contents

List of Contributors



Chapter 1. A Brief History of Ethics

1 Meta-Ethics: What does “Right” mean?

2 Normative Ethics: How Ought People to Act?

3 Applied Ethics: How do People Implement Moral Knowledge?

4 Moral Psychology: What do People Think about what is Right?

5 Descriptive Ethics: What do People Profess is Right?

6 Summary

Chapter 2. The Forensic Practitioner’s Quest for Truth

1 Comparative Religion: A Primer7

2 Good and Evil: A Christian Perspective

3 The Scientist and the Truth

4 Ethics in the Laboratory

5 Court

6 Truth in Life

7 Practical Forensic Ethics: Deadly Sins and Cardinal Virtues

8 Summary

Chapter 3. General Forensic Ethical Dilemmas

1 Major Categories of Ethical Dilemmas in Forensic Science

2 Discussion of Ethical Dilemmas in Forensic Science

3 Summary

Chapter 4. Codes of Ethics in Forensic Science Societies: The Organizational Parameters of Morality and Conduct

1 Codes of Ethics in Professional Organizations

2 The Development of an Association’s Code of Ethics and Conduct

3 A Comparison of the Code Provisions of Forensic Science Societies

4 EnforceAbility and Enforcement of Codes of Ethics and Professional Responsibility

5 Conclusion

Chapter 5. Ethical Foundations for SANE Practice

1 Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) History and Program Development

2 The Role of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner

3 The Nurse Practice Act

4 Confidentiality, Informed Consent, and Patient Autonomy

5 Hospital Policies and Codes of Ethics and Ethics Committees

6 Ethical Issues in SANE Practice

7 Examination Issues

8 Deciding what Evidence to Collect

9 Maintaining Boundaries and Avoiding Role Conflict

10 Testifying in Sexual Assault


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© Academic Press 2012
Academic Press
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About the Editor

J.C. Upshaw Downs

Affiliations and Expertise

Coastal Regional Medical Examiner, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Savannah, Georgia, and forensX LLC, Medicolegal Consultants and Training, Savannah, Georgia, USA

Anjali Ranadive Swienton

Affiliations and Expertise

SciLawForensics, Ltd., State College, PA, USA


"Downs, a medical examiner and consultant, and Swienton, a forensic attorney and consultant, provide forensic and criminal justice practitioners, crime scene investigators and photographers, law enforcement training centers, police academies and local agencies, and forensic consultants and scientists with a guide to ethics in forensic science. It contains 17 chapters by forensic science, law, and other specialists from the US who discuss the history of ethics, provide brief synopses of major theorists, and address topics like the religious perspective of applied ethics in forensics; general ethical dilemmas; codes of ethics in forensic science societies and other organizations (education, business, religion, medicine, etc.); the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner model; teaching ethics; criminal investigation, crime lab and crime scene, and judicial ethics; the post-conviction process; whistleblowers; and ethics in law enforcement, for child abuse prosecutors and defense attorneys, in testimony of forensic practitioners, and in media." --Reference and Research Book News, Inc.

"This book attempts to answer the question: "When is ethical, ethical, and when is it not?" Its contributors write on topics such as general forensic ethical dilemmas; codes of ethics as spelled out by forensic science societies; ethics in SANE practice; how to teach ethics; ethics in law enforcement, criminal investigations, crime laboratories, and crime scene investigations; and ethics for attorneys, prosecutors, and expert witnesses." --Evidence Technology Magazine, July-August 2012