This Comment identifies the proper uses of canine handler teams in arson investigations and trials. Part II discusses the origins of forensic science in criminal trials, the use of expert witnesses in the courtroom, the history and role of forensic science and canine handler teams in arson cases, and the problem of “junk science.” Part III analyzes the pros and cons of using canine handler teams in arson investigations and the dilemma courts face when confronted with unconfirmed canine alerts. Part IV resolves the issue of using canine handler teams in arson investigations. First, it advocates for their continued use in evidence collection but suggests that unconfirmed canine alerts should be excluded from the courtroom. Then, it proposes ways that unconfirmed alerts could still have value outside of the courtroom, including during crowd searches and to establish probable cause to conduct criminal investigations.
Andrew Scott, Taking a Bite Out of Forensic Science: The Misuse of Accelerant-Detecting Dogs in Arson Cases, 48 J. Marshall L. Rev. 1149 (2015)