CODE OF ETHICS
- Scientific Method
- Opinions & Conclusions
- Court Presentation
- General Practice of Forensic Metrology
"As a Member of the International Association of Forensic and Security Metrology, I pledge not to prejudge or present biased results in the course of my duties. I will do my best to remain fair and impartial, searching to represent and present the truth in all that I perform. Any opinion I profer will be based on the physical evidence and facts discovered of the given case. I further pledge to render an opinion only within my field of competence; to maintain an attitude of independence, impartiality and objectivity; to constantly seek to improve my professional capabilities; and to improve the standards, techniques and practices in the field of metrology by making the benefits of my professional attainments available to all other association members."
This code is intended to be a guide for the ethical professional conduct of members in the field of forensic and security metrology and the work he/she performs. It is not to be construed that these principles are immutable laws, nor that they are all-inclusive. Instead, they are to represent a general set of standards which each worker should continually strive to meet throughout his/her career. It is understood that each individual case is different and unique unto itself and varies, just as the evidence with which each examiner is concerned, and no set of guides and rules will precisely fit every occasion. A failure to meet or maintain certain aspects of these standards will justifiably cast doubt upon an individual's fitness for this type of work. Serious or repeated infractions of these principles may be regarded as inconsistent with membership in this association.
It is the duty of any person practicing the profession of capturing spatial data and possibly performing various analytical studies based on physical and forensic facts to serve the interests of justice to the best of his/her ability at all times. All the scientific means and knowledge at his/her command will be utilized to ascertain all the significant physical facts relative to the matters under investigation. Having made factual determinations, he/she must interpret and visually interpret his/her findings. If requested, he/she will add all the physical evidence and forensic findings of other experts in order to visually display the summary, combining a variety of expert results. This may enable him/her to arrive at opinions or conclusions pertaining to the analysis performed. These findings of fact, conclusions and opinions should then be reported with all the accuracy and skill which the examiner/expert possesses.
In carrying out these functions, members will be guided by those practices and procedures generally recognized within the profession to be consistent with a high level of professional ethics. The motives, methods and actions of the examiner/expert shall at all times be above reproach, in good taste and consistent with proper moral conduct.
I. Scientific Method
Members in the performance of their duties will follow the principles of The Scientific Method in that processes, techniques and theories utilized are:
- falsifiable, refutable and testable.
- subject to peer review and publication
- possess a known or potential error rate
- are subject to maintained standards and controls that permit their replication, and
- are generally accepted by their relevant scientific community.
A proper scientific method demands reliability and validity in the data analyzed. Conclusions will not be drawn from materials which themselves appear unrepresentative, atypical or unreliable. Further no generally discredited or unreliable procedures or techniques will be utilized in an analysis.
The progressive worker will keep abreast of the latest developments in scientific forensic, metrology methods and techniques, and in all cases view them with an open and unbiased mind. This is not to say that workers need not be critical of untried or unproved methods, but that they will recognize superior methods if and when they are introduced.
II. Opinions & Conclusions
- Valid conclusions call for the application of generally accepted techniques.
- Tests are designed to disclose facts, and all interpretations shall be consistent with that purpose and shall not knowingly be distorted. Where appropriate to the correct interpretation of a test, experimental controls shall be made.
- Where tests results are inconclusive or indefinite, any conclusions drawn shall be fully explained.
- The examiner/expert is unbiased and refuses to be swayed by evidence or matters outside the specific materials under consideration. He/she is immune to suggestion, pressures and coercions inconsistent with the evidence at hand, being interested only in ascertaining facts. Further the examiner/expert will make an adequate examination of the material, applying those techniques and tests essential for proof. He/she will not utilize unwarranted or superfluous tests in an attempt to give apparent weight to his/her results.
- When analytical studies have been performed utilizing the results from other expert examiners, members will not give testimony based on those areas in which he/she is not a recognized expert. Instead he/she will defer such questions to the appropriate expert who provided the data used.
- Scientific method demands that an individual be aware of his/her own limitations and refuse to extend him/herself beyond them. It is both proper and advisable that the examiner/expert seek knowledge in new fields; he/she will not, however, be hasty to apply such knowledge before having had adequate training and experience.
- Where analytical study results are capable of being interpreted to the advantage of either side of a case, the examiner/expert will not choose that interpretation favoring the side commissioning the analysis as a means of justifying his/her employment.
- It is both wise and proper that the examiner/expert be aware of the various possible implications of his/her opinions and conclusions and be prepared to weigh them, if called upon to do so. In any case, however, he/she will clearly distinguish between that which may be regarded as scientifically demonstrated fact and that which is speculative.
III. Court Presentation
- The ethical examiner/expert does not take advantage of his/her field of qualification by offering opinions to which he/she has not given formal consideration.
- Regardless of legal definitions, the examiner/expert will realize that there are degrees of certainty represented under the single term of "expert opinion." He/she will not take advantage of the general privilege to assign greater significance to an interpretation than is justified by the available data.
- Where circumstances dictate, the examiner/expert will indicate that a specific opinion derived from study and judgment may lack the certainty of other opinions offered, so as to leave no false impressions in the minds of jurors or the court.
- The examiner/expert will avoid unclear, misleading, circuitous or ambiguous language that may be misconstrued or misunderstood.
- It is not the object of the examiner's/expert's appearance in court to present only the evidence that supports the view of the side that employs him/her. He/she has a moral obligation to see that the court understands the evidence as it exists and to present it in an impartial manner.
- The examiner/expert will not by implication, knowingly or intentionally assist the contestants in a case through such tactics as will implant a false impression.
- The examiner/expert will answer all questions put to him/her in a clear, straightforward manner and refuse to extend him/herself beyond his/her qualified field of expertise and competence.
- By way of conveying information to the court, it is appropriate that any of a variety of demonstrative materials and methods be utilized by the expert witness. Such methods and materials shall not however, be altered, distorted or unduly sensational.
- The examiner/expert will not exaggerate or embellish his/her qualification when testifying.
IV. General Practice of Forensic Metrology
- No services shall be rendered on a contingency fee basis.
- It shall be regarded as ethical for the examiner/expert to reexamine evidence and metrology data previously submitted to or examined by another. Where a difference of opinion arises, however, as to the significance of the evidence, analytical results, spatial metrology gathered or software applied, it is in the interest of the profession that every effort is made by both examiners/experts to resolve their conflict before the case goes to trial.
- Generally, the principle of "attorney/client" relationship is considered to apply to work of a physical evidence consultant except in a situation where a miscarriage of justice might occur. In such circumstances, justice will be the guiding principle.
- It shall be ethical for an examiner/expert to serve an attorney in an advisory capacity regarding the interrogation of another expert who may be presenting testimony. This service must be performed in good faith and not maliciously. Its purpose is to prevent incompetent testimony, not to thwart justice.