Michigan Governor Appoints Two AAFS Fellows to Newly Created Task Force of Forensic Science

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Academy News are those of the identified authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Academy.

Source: Donald E. Shelton, JD, PhD, Jurisprudence Section Chair

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently created a Task Force of Forensic Science and has appointed two AAFS Fellows to join the group. In creating the group, the Governor said, “A fair trial is at the core of the American criminal justice system. While forensic science is an important tool, misapplication of forensic science can deprive a person of a fair trial. We must ensure that Michigan adheres to the highest standards of evidence, and that practitioners throughout our criminal justice system understand how to apply forensic science properly.”

The Task Force will be chaired by Chief Justice Bridget McCormack of the Michigan Supreme Court and Michigan State Police Director Col. Joseph Gasper. It also includes four members of the Michigan legislature as non-voting members.

Jurisprudence Section Chair Donald Shelton was appointed to the Task Force as “an individual from … a university … who has a doctoral degree in a distinct field relevant to forensic science and who has published scholarship related to the field in a peer-reviewed journal.” He was a judge for 25 years and is the Director of Criminology and Criminal Justice Program at the University of Michigan Dearborn. The Governor also appointed AAFS Pathology/Biology Fellow Jeffrey Jentzen as a “board-certified pathologist with experience in forensic pathology. He is a clinical professor emeritus of pathology for the University of Michigan Department of Pathology and has served as the chief medical examiner for Washtenaw County and deputy medical examiner for Wayne County.

In her Executive Order, the Governor charged the task force to:

  1. Develop recommendations to improve the practice, delivery, and use of forensic science in Michigan.
  2. Develop recommendations to strengthen forensic science methodologies and practices in the state.
  3. Develop recommendations for statewide protocols for disclosure of negligence or misconduct by employees at forensic science providers.
  4. Develop recommendations for a process allowing members of the public to report alleged professional negligence or misconduct related to the practice or use of forensic science.
  5. Develop recommendations for best practices for individuals who practice or apply forensic science in the criminal justice system.
  6. Develop recommendations for a procedure for updating stakeholders on developments in forensic science.
  7. Develop recommendations for a post-conviction notification procedure to notify parties affected by misconduct, negligence, or misapplication of forensic science.
  8. Provide other information or advice or take other actions as requested by the governor.