Australian courtrooms are employing ‘Junk science’, putting wrongful convictions at risk

Australian courtrooms are employing 'Junk science', putting wrongful convictions at risk

The media is questioning the conviction of Robert Farquharson for the murder of his three sons in 2005, raising doubts about the reliability of the prosecution’s evidence. This case is reminiscent of other cases where murder convictions were overturned due to unreliable scientific and medical testimony. The handling of expert opinion evidence by Australian courts is in crisis, as they ignore criteria recommended by scientific organizations and fail to insist on formal validation of experts’ methods. There is a lack of regulation and oversight in admitting forensic science evidence, leading to the admission of “junk science” and potentially wrongful convictions. Defence counsel also fail to effectively cross-examine forensic scientists about the validity and accuracy of their opinions. Ignorance and complacency within the criminal justice system contribute to these issues. Evidence-based reform is urgently needed, including the imposition of an explicit reliability standard for expert opinion evidence and the establishment of an independent panel and Criminal Cases Review Commission. These measures would help ensure the fairness and accuracy of criminal trials.