Sample Law Paper on Alternative Forms of Evidence; the Case Against Aaron Hernandez

Introduction

There are different ways in which pieces of evidence can be presented in courts of law including the presentation of tire impression and eyewitness. The former involves surveillance of footage such as the fingerprints or the physical wears like shoes or tires. Aaron Hernandez is an example of cases which have employed the tire impression evidence in its investigation. One reason why the investigators of the case use this kind of evidence is when the case is mostly circumstantial implying that the investigation cannot be done directly like those where eyewitnesses are involved. Therefore, Aaron Hernandez’s case, the investigators’ prosecutors, and the defense attorney had to dwell much on tire impression evidence.

A summary of the case

Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged for committing the first-degree murder for Lloyd’s on the 26th day of June 2013. He was also indicted for being in possession of illegal weapons in his home (Susan Candiotti and Laura Dolan, CNN, 2015). The CNN reported that the shoes and the footprints led to a big deal since when it could be connected to Lloyd’s body to help in proving that the alleged was a direct participant of his death.

The specifications of the case show that Lloyd’s was shot seven times; one at the back and six others in his front. Also, according to a medical examination, Lloyd’s was finally shot while he was lying face up (Susan Candiotti and Laura Dolan, CNN, 2015). Despite the pieces of evidence laid to Hernandez, he did not plead guilty. When discovering Lloyd’s body, the investigators noted that there was an impression of a different sole of the shoe from those of the police and those of the civilian witness present at the scene (Susan Candiotti and Laura Dolan, CNN, 2015). The police then executed a search warrant for weapons and the shows whose soles could match those found in the crime scene.

During the search, the investigators noted that Nike and Creative Recreation produced the pairs of shoes in Hernandez’s home. Others were noted to be produced by Wallace who was also charged with the murder of Lloyd’s (Susan Candiotti and Laura Dolan, CNN, 2015). However, Wallace also did not plead guilty, hence, would be tried separately. The investigations also showed that Wallace was seen entering Lloyd’s home through video cameras. He was seen entering the car some minutes after the victim’s death.

How a criminalist may adequately handle the evidence presented

Various types of pieces of evidence have a specific value of investigation. Therefore, criminalists should keep in mind those values when they are in investigating in the crime scene (Saferstein, 2014). For example, in tire impression kind of evidence, the investigation should focus on collecting the fingerprints and other footage rather than finding fibers left by the suspect. Therefore, in Hernandez’s case, the criminalists could spend less time and few materials which would, in turn, be a cheaper means of investigation (C. Rausch, 2014). When collecting the fingerprints, both the suspect’s and the victim’s should be collected and preserved for matching assessment in a court of law.

The criminalists can also use materials such as the shoeprint and tire tracks, questioned documents, and other possible trace evidence. Shoeprint and tracks were useful in Hernandez’s case since it could be matched to those in the crime scene (C. Rausch, 2014). This kind of evidence is collected and preserved to be assessed when investigating the type of shoes that the suspect wore when undertaking crime. The questioned documents are used by criminalists when the case involves some writing materials which can be matched back to the suspects (C. Rausch, 2014). The kind of approach to collect and preserve evidence is guided by the nature of the crime and the available resources.

Specific laboratory techniques that may be conducted to analyze the evidence

Evidence can be examined using the particular laboratory techniques depending on the nature of the evidence provided. Some of these techniques include the Trace evidence, computer crimes, and firearms and toolmark identification (Erickson, 2013). Trace evidence is where the GSR is run as well as the identification and comparison of the available paint and such pieces of evidence in the crime scene. On the other hand, computer crimes involve recovering of evidence from the computers and performing its enhancements, particularly where audio or video pieces of evidence is required (Nelson, Phillips, & Steuart, 2015). The toolamark technique comprises of establishing the barrel pattern and the distance of the gun from the entrance of the body.

The importance of expert testimony

An expert testimony helps in providing information and facts about a case. Mostly this information is technical. Data from an expert is descriptive with more details the affidavit focuses on opinions and more elaborate (Brodsky & Gutheil, 2012). Hence, it helps the judge to make a decision on particular cases. Without expert information, the judge might make wrong decision basing only on the lawyer’s argument which mighty is biased (Brodsky & Gutheil, 2012). If he judge is to make a decision basing on arguments, therefore a technical expert is required to elaborate on the facts about the case. Also, expert testimony brings to the service the silent evidence (MCCLINTOCK, 2014). This silent evidence might be seen as meaningless and therefore isolated, but if interpreted and explained, then it becomes meaningful and might speak out.

An expert testimony makes to or more points that look similar or are argued to be related to being different. For example, if a bullet is fired, and there is a need to state which gun fired the shot clearly, then an expert testimony will be required to interpret and analyze the to determine which weapon was used (Stevens, 2013).  Therefore expert testimony is necessary to show the untrained hearers that one point is incorrect and the other is correct.

Expert testimony requires a witness to give evidence so that the weakness or its strength can be determined to avoid uninformed witnesses providing false proofs (Stevens, 2013). This action is done with the application of commonsense and reasonable concept and to determine whether the testimony given is correct or false. This makes the ignorant regarding the subject knowledgeable and therefore avoids a miscarriage of justice.

One of the requirements of expert testimony is the reasoning.  In this, a conclusion is justified. Also, expert testimony helps to determine the illogical basis of false evidence might be exposed (Stevens, 2013). Expert testimony helps the judge to make a favorable ruling by quoting old rules and basing its arguments and quoting from the old opinions. There are of things that the judge, a lawyer, a plaintiff or even the witness cannot see, and then the help of an export testimony is sort.

Problems existing with an expert witness and the roles of an expert witness

A problem arises when unqualified expert witness audience cannot differentiate between a well-told tell from the truth. Usually, judges are told separate, mutually exclusive tales by each party in the legation when the testimony includes areas that do not have an agreement (Baker, 2010).  It is also difficult when there are no standers to identify neutral third parties to act as scientific mediators.

Biasness occur when a party hires an expert to support their case. This case will inspire the expert to give testimony in favor of the hiring party making the evidence to lake adequate objectivity (Baker, 2010). The expert will provide unreliable testimony to please the hiring party so that he will be hired again in the future or for more financial enticements. Competition by expert and desire to be recognized is another source of biasness. Judicial acceptance of unreliable expert testimony is another source of problems that exist with the use of an expert witness (Miller, 2018). When the judges accept jumble science, it will lead to results that defy common sense because it might be undue results to be questioned by the conscience.

Use of hired guns reduce judicial competence and increases litigation cost because litigants can avoid warm judgment by presenting dubious expert testimony that raises some question of facts (Miller, 2018). Expert witness sometimes fails to justify their methodology and opinion.

 The critical function of an expert witness is to assist the court in reaching making its decision through the provision of self-determining procedural inquiry and judgment in a particular case concerning the evidence tabled by those initiating it.

The commitments that an expert is expected to discharge from time to time conflict with those he owes to his client (Miller, 2018). For example, if the client put pressure on the expert witness, then the overall opinion regarding the case can be damaged. Therefore, in such influences, the expert witness ought to dismiss his evidence and commitment to the case making the criminalists to seek for other pieces of evidence. In case the expert witness pays no attention to details of the case, then the case may be destroyed.

Conclusion

The tire impression technique of collecting pieces of evidence is an effective means in which investigation can be conducted. Using this method of investigation approach in Aaron Hernandez’s case helped the investigators and the criminalists to address the murder case efficiently since it only involved matching the suspect’s footage and those recorded in the crime scene. However, some limitations such as unqualified expert witness audience not differentiating between a ‘well-told tell’ from the truth were noted in this case, but its merits outweigh them. Comparatively, tire impression means of collecting evidence is more efficient than others such as eye witness since once the footage has been assessed, then the case can be determined without further investigation required.

 

References

Baker, L. E. (2010). Review of: Forensic Biology: Identification and DNA Analysis of Biological Evidence. Journal of Forensic Sciences55(1), pp. 281-281.

Brodsky, S. L., & Gutheil, T. G. (2012). Boundaries between expert witness roles and trial consultation. The expert expert witness: More maxims and guidelines for testifying in court (2nd ed.), pp. 18-21.

  1. Rausch, C. (2014). Interdisciplinary Practices in Forensics within American Law Enforcement: The International Context. 2nd Annual International Conference on Forensic Sciences & Criminalistics Research (FSCR 2014). doi:10.5176/2382-5642_fscr14.28

Erickson, E. (2013). Criminalistics laboratory manual: The basics of forensic investigation (1st edn.). London: Routledge.

MCCLINTOCK, J. T. (2014). Forensic Analysis of Biological Evidence: A Laboratory Guide for Serological and DNA Typing (1st edn.). S.l.: CRC PRESS.

Miller, M. T. (2018). Crime Scene Reconstruction. Crime Scene Investigation Laboratory Manual, pp. 153-157.

Nelson, B., Phillips, A., & Steuart, C. (2015). Guide to computer forensics and investigations: Processing digital evidence (5th edn.). Cengage Learning.

Saferstein, R. (2014). Criminalistics: An introduction to forensic science (11th edn.). Pearson.

Stevens, G. P. (2013). The role of expert evidence in support of the defense of criminal incapacity.

Susan Candiotti and Laura Dolan, CNN. (2015, February 21). The case against Aaron Hernandez: Where are the shoes? – Viewed 4-Aug 2018 <https://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/20/us/hernandez-evidence-shoes/index.html>