Monday, April 25, 2005

Forensic Science Hall of Shame - Joyce Gilchrist

This is the first entry in my Forensic Science Hall of Shame. To qualify, a person must have held themselves out as a forensic scientist. She must also have actually testified in criminal trials. Finally, her work must have been shown to be fraudulent, incompetent, or just plain ludicrous. This encompasses a whole range of shameful behavior, including, but not limited to: reporting results of tests never done, repeatedly reporting false "matches" through DNA or fingerprint analysis, testifying as to a forensice "science" that doesn't exist, and repeatedly overstating the statistical significance of test results.

The first member to be inducted is Joyce Gilchrist. Ms. Gilchrist was the head of the crime lab for the Oklahoma City Police Department. An African-American, she was dubbed "Black Magic" by others in law enforcement for her ability to get test results others couldn't, and for her ability to persuade jurors to believe whatever she said. Defense attorneys repeatedly complained to judges, the police department, and the DAs about Ms. Gilchrist's lack of scientific rigor. But as long as she helped them rack up convictions, they didn't give a damn. As it turned out, Ms. Gilchrist's "science" was about as scientific as black magic. Much of her testimony was completely unsupported by science, bordering on outright perjury. Untold innocents were convicted, imprisoned, and even sent to death row thanks to Gilchrist. For his part, notorious Oklahoma City District Attorney Bob Macy gets special recognition as her accomplice. "Hang 'em high" Bob couldn't get enough of Gilchrist. Somehow, she always came up with the evidence they needed to convict.

For her contributions to junk forensic science and her tireless efforts to imprison the innocent, Joyce Gilchrist is hereby inducted into the Forensic Science Hall of Shame.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a recent example of Ms. Gilcrest's excellent work.

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