Ethics in Forensic Science

Ethics in Forensic Science, 1st Edition

Ethics in Forensic Science, 1st Edition,J.C. Upshaw Downs,Anjali Ranadive Swienton,ISBN9780123850195

Downs   &   Ranadive Swienton   

Academic Press




235 X 191

A reference that illustrates the theory and application of acting ethically by presenting varying perspectives for practitioners in forensic sciences

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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


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.


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

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

Ethics in Forensic Science, 1st Edition

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


Quotes and reviews

"Downs, a medical examiner and consultant, and Swienton, a forensic attorney and consultant, provide forensic and criminal justice practitioners, crime scene investigators and photographers, law enforcement training centers, police academies and local agencies, and forensic consultants and scientists with a guide to ethics in forensic science. It contains 17 chapters by forensic science, law, and other specialists from the US who discuss the history of ethics, provide brief synopses of major theorists, and address topics like the religious perspective of applied ethics in forensics; general ethical dilemmas; codes of ethics in forensic science societies and other organizations (education, business, religion, medicine, etc.); the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner model; teaching ethics; criminal investigation, crime lab and crime scene, and judicial ethics; the post-conviction process; whistleblowers; and ethics in law enforcement, for child abuse prosecutors and defense attorneys, in testimony of forensic practitioners, and in media." --Reference and Research Book News, Inc.

"This book attempts to answer the question: "When is ethical, ethical, and when is it not?" Its contributors write on topics such as general forensic ethical dilemmas; codes of ethics as spelled out by forensic science societies; ethics in SANE practice; how to teach ethics; ethics in law enforcement, criminal investigations, crime laboratories, and crime scene investigations; and ethics for attorneys, prosecutors, and expert witnesses." --Evidence Technology Magazine, July-August 2012

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