Senn & Potkin at NACDL

David Senn has long been a vocal spokesperson for bitemarks and the ABFO.  However, his views on bitemarks have changed over the years.

Nothing different in that surely?  However, the interesting thing is that Senn was once one of those calling for caution, stating in his NAS presentation that the scientific basis for bitemarks hadn’t been met and calling for more research.

We have licensed this one hour programme from the National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers (visit their site here).

Here you will see Senn speak on a session related to post-conviction litigation in relation to bitemarks and he is joined by Vanessa Potkin of the New York Innocence project.

What’s interesting here is the contrast between Senn’s position here and, for example, at the Texas Forensic Science Commission – not least his apparent comfort with the Innocence Project.  If you recall he wasted much of his time in the initial TFSC committee by criticising the IP rather than addressing the salient issue of bitemarks. See the transcript here and listen to the audio.

You might also see that Senn welcomes, praises and describes in detail the work of the Bush’s (SUNY) forensic research – again compare this to his extensive criticism at the TFSC – again quite a flip flop of opinion.

So Senn’s change of mind is different to most.  Most odontologists have become increasingly cautious as the research evidence mounts suggesting that the science is not reliable enough – yet Dr Senn has gone the other way becoming increasingly vociferous in his defence of bitemarks.

However, there is no science, no study and no evidence that he can point to that would support his change of view.  Indeed, he was a pioneer of caution and is now apparently throwing this to the wind and going all out on an evangelical like support of bitemarks.

Somewhat like evangelists he also takes a strong view against those who wish to support the science by further research – recently calling for another bitemark study to be cancelled due to concerns of the morals and ethics of those undertaking it – yet no real scientific objection to the work.


I A Pretty

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