The Lawyer’s Guide to the Forensic Sciences


Winner of the 2017 Walter Owen Book Prize

The clash of the scientific and legal cultures in the courtroom, though theoretically directed at finding the truth, is marked by tension. Forensic science — science applied to the legal context — advances rapidly and has undergone dramatic changes in recent years. In contrast, the law embraces finality in administering justice and struggles to change with evolving scientific knowledge. Improving the scientific literacy of the legal community, however, may help to mitigate this tension.

To that end, this guide provides criminal lawyers, defence and Crown alike, with a macroscopic view of multiple forensic science disciplines, specific to the Canadian legal system and written by Canadian experts. Facilitating further case-specific research, this guide seeks to reinvigorate dialogue and improve collaboration between the forensic and legal communities in Canada, and contribute to the effective functioning of a fair and reasonable criminal justice system.


"Bravo to Irwin for providing yet another work which will prevent flawed forensic science and inadequacies in the court process from yielding miscarriages of justice — and bravo to Pakosh, and her contributors, for providing us — not just defence lawyers, but prosecutors, expert witnesses and judges as well, no matter in which country they happen to reside — with such an array of helpful tools for avoiding wrongful convictions. It’s a worthy goal for all of us." — Harold Levy, Publisher, The Charles Smith Blog (full review text)

"The Lawyer’s Guide to the Forensic Sciences, edited by Caitlin Pakosh…is an ambitious work that introduces readers to the key forensic sciences used in Canadian courts. … [It] provides a useful, accessible, and comprehensive introduction to the forensic sciences and their use in Canadian courts. This book is recommended for law students, criminal lawyers, and more generally to people interested in the forensic sciences and the law."
— Goldwynn Lewis, Canadian Law Library Review 42:3 (2017).

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations  
Chapter 1: The Need for Scientific Literacy in the Legal Community by Caitlin Pakosh
Chapter 2: Forensic Experts in the Criminal Justice System by Caitlin Pakosh
Chapter 3: Expert Evidence: Judge as Gatekeeper by Richard D. Schneider
Chapter 4: Presenting Scientific Evidence in the Courtroom by Vincenzo Rondinelli
Chapter 5: Critically Examining the Forensic Sciences: Inquiries and Reports by Sarah Harland-Logan
Chapter 6: Bloodstain Pattern Analysis by Patrick Laturnus
Chapter 7: Digital Evidence by Steven L. Rogers
Chapter 8: Fingerprint Analysis by Wade Knaap
Chapter 9: Firearms and Ballistics by Liam Hendrikse
Chapter 10: Fire Investigation by Vladimir (Val) Chlistovsky
Chapter 11: Forensic Anthropology by Tracy Rogers
Chapter 12: Forensic Biology and DNA by Cecilia Hageman
Chapter 13: Forensic Botany by Rolf W. Mathewes
Chapter 14: Forensic Document Examination by Dan C. Purdy
Chapter 15: Forensic Entomology by Gail S. Anderson and Sherah L. VanLaerhoven
Chapter 16: Forensic Nursing by Sheila Early
Chapter 17: Forensic Odontology by David Sweet O.C.
Chapter 18: Forensic Pathology by Forensic Pathologists of the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit in Toronto
Chapter 19: Forensic Psychiatry by Hy Bloom and Richard D. Schneider
Chapter 20: Forensic Toxicology — Alcohol and Drugs by James Wigmore and James Watterson
Chapter 21: Memory in the Criminal Courts by Timothy E. Moore, Stephanie Marion, C. Lindsay Fitzsimmons, & Brian Cutler
Chapter 22: Probability by Alison Weir
Chapter 23: Statistics by Alison Weir
Table of Cases

Of interest...