Ethics in Forensic Science

Ethics in Forensic Science

1st Edition - March 20, 2012

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  • Editors: J.C. Upshaw Downs, Anjali Ranadive Swienton
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123850195
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123850201

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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 Cases

    11 Conducting Sexual Assault Research

    12 Summary

    Chapter 6. Ethics Codes in Other Organizations: Structures and Enforcement

    1 Foreword

    2 Politics/Governmental Employees

    3 Education

    4 Religion

    5 Business/Investment

    6 Medicine/Research

    7 Sports/Entertainment

    8 Law

    9 Lessons and Applications to Forensics

    10 Summary

    Chapter 7. Teaching Ethics

    1 Introduction

    2 Educational Standards and Ethics

    3 A Professional Approach to Ethics

    4 Forensic Science

    5 Can Ethics be Taught?

    6 How do you Teach Ethics? Methods and Media

    7 Conclusions

    Chapter 8. Ethics in Law Enforcement: Defining the Thin Blue Line

    1 Introduction

    2 The Raw Material: The Applicant

    3 The Individual: Self-Awareness

    3.2 Know Yourself Best and First

    4 Guiding Performance by Policies and Procedures

    5 Heuristics: Recognizing Biases

    6 Power Corrupts Good Character

    7 The Thin Blue Line of Character

    8 Modeled Behavior Influences Character

    9 Unchecked Emotions Spoil Good Character

    10 Character Controls Career Choices

    11 Character Affects Confidence

    12 Courage Develops Character

    13 Focusing on the Big Picture

    14 Redefining the Winning Edge

    15 Ethical Decision-Making

    16 Conclusion

    Chapter 9. Criminal Investigational Ethics

    1 Introduction

    2 Basis of Law Enforcement Ethics

    3 The Role of Law Enforcement in Criminal Investigations

    4 The Foundation of Criminal Investigations Ethics

    5 Intervew and Interrogation

    6 Case Study Example

    7 Factors Influencing Investigative Decisions

    8 Crime Scene and Evidence Issues

    9 Evidence Processing Decisons

    10 Investigator Crime Theories

    11 Stephanie Crowe Case Study Example

    12 Factors Affecting the Investigation

    13 Addressing Solutions to Ethical Investigations

    14 Police Standards and Professional Development

    15 Recruiting and Ethics Training

    16 Impact of Community-Based Policing

    17 Research and Practice

    18 Specialized Criminal Investigation Training

    19 Management and Leadership

    20 Influence of Police Culture

    21 Summary

    Chapter 10. Ethics in the Crime Laboratory and in Crime Scene Investigations

    1 Codes of Ethics

    2 Laboratory Accreditation

    3 Brady12 Material

    4 The National Academy of Sciences

    5 Practical Issues

    6 Conclusion

    Chapter 11. Ethics for Child Abuse Prosecutors: A Call to Leadership

    1 Preliminary Matters: Investigation and Assessment

    2 Ethics in Charging Decisions: An Exercise in Discretion

    3 Ethics at Trial

    4 Ethics in Plea Bargaining

    5 Conclusion

    Chapter 12. Ethical Duties of Attorneys and Experts in Cases Involving Forensic Evidence, from the Perspective of the Defense

    1 Introduction

    2 The Defense Attorney’s and Defense Experts’ Ethical Duties in a Case Involving Forensic Evidence

    3 A Defense Perspective on the Ethical Duties of the Prosecution and its Experts in a Case Involving Forensic Science

    Chapter 13. Ethics in Testimony

    1 Introduction

    2 Reporting Test Results

    3 Double Roles

    4 Brady

    5 Forensic Science Organization Codes of Ethics

    6 Access to Experts

    7 Qualifications

    8 Other Issues and Slippery Slopes

    9 Types of Transgression

    10 Conclusion

    Chapter 14. Judicial Ethics

    Chapter 15. The Post-Conviction Process – From the Perspective of the Convicted

    1 Introduction

    2 The Post-Conviction Process

    3 The Duty to Disclose: A Constitutional (?) Mandate

    4 The Duty to Retain/Preserve Evidence

    5 Ethical Codes and the Post-Conviction Process

    6 CBLA: A Model for Post-Conviction Ethics

    Chapter 16. Whistleblowers

    1 Introduction

    2 Reporting Wrongs

    3 The Federal False Claims Act

    4 Pharmaceutical Research Scandals

    5 Forensics Problems

    6 Blowing the Whistle

    7 Investigating Claims

    8 Case Scenario

    9 Advocacy

    10 Conclusion

    Chapter 17. Ethics in Media

    1 Introduction

    2 Continuous Coverage

    3 Forensic Science on Television

    4 True Crime Books

    5 High Profile Trials

    6 Good Scientists Gone Bad and Other Forensic Faux Pas

    7 Laboratory Scandals

    8 Use of Technology


    9 Conclusion


Product details

  • No. of pages: 472
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2012
  • Published: March 20, 2012
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780123850195
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123850201

About the Editors

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

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