Origin of Forensic Science

Topics: Forensic science, Forensic pathology, Pathology Pages: 8 (2719 words) Published: November 10, 2010

“For most people, "forensic science" means cops and fingerprints and DNA analysis. All of that is still true, but these days forensic science encompasses much more.”
Forensic science, also known as forensics, may generally be defined as the application of scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge to assist courts in resolving questions of fact in civil and criminal trials. In other words forensic science, in its broadest definition, is the application of science to law. Forensic science is carried out by forensic scientists, whose primary objective is the even-handed use of all the available information to determine the facts and ultimately the truth no matter who they are instructed by. Forensic scientists perform two roles in their work. One is to analyze physical evidence found either on a victim, at the scene of a crime, or both and to compare it to evidence found on the suspect. The other is to provide expert testimony in a court of law. Without question, the field of forensic science has come a very long way since its recorded beginnings in the 700s, when the Chinese used fingerprints to establish the identity of documents and clay sculptures. Although records show that the Chinese used forensics first many people still to this day believe that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle played a large part in scientific crime-detection though his character Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes applied the newest developing principles of serology, fingerprints, firearms identification, and questioned-documents examinations. Holmes did all of this way before a real-life criminal investigators came into play. When Holmes wrote his first novel, A Study in Scarlet, published in 1887, examples of his ability to show scientific methods were discovered and implemented.

Many people can be cited for their work with forensics, Holmes was not the only one. Mathieu Orfila was considered the father of forensic toxicology. In 1814, Orfila published the first scientific treatise on the detection of poisons and their effects on animals. That treatise established forensic toxicology as a scientific endeavor. Alphonse Bertillon, a French police employee, identified the first recidivist based on his invention of anthropometry. Francis Galton published Fingerprints, the first comprehensive book on the nature of fingerprints and their use in solving crime. Leone Lattes devised a relatively simple procedure for determining the blood group of died bloodstains, a technique that he immediately applied to criminal investigations. Calvin Goddard, with Charles Waite, Phillip O. Gravelle, and John H Fisher, perfected the comparison microscope for use in bullet comparison. Albert S. Osborne, an American and arguably the most influential document examiner, published Questioned Documents. Hans Gross, examining magistrate and professor of criminal law at the University of Graz, Austria, published Criminal Investigation, the first comprehensive description of uses of physical evidence in solving crime. Gross is also sometimes credited with coining the word criminalistics. Last but not least, saving the best for the last was Edmond Locard. Locard’s formal education was in both medicine and law. In 1910, Locard was able to convince the Lyon police to establish a laboratory for collecting and examining evidence from crime scenes. They provided him with a few rooms in the attic of the court house in order to set up his laboratory. In 1912, the laboratory was officially recognized by the Lyon police. Locard then headed the first official police crime laboratory in the world. This laboratory received world recognition and many great criminalists obtained their knowledge and experience under the guidance of Locard in the years that followed. Locard's contribution to forensic sciences is immense. His most important contribution is the principle of exchange. Locard stated that any action of an individual, and...
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