NFI-scientist writes accessible book on evidence interpretation

How should one interpret evidence? Which value should be assigned to this evidence? These are challenging questions for both forensic scientists and legal practitioners. Scientist Charles Berger of the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) co-authored an accessible book about it.

Image: ©Netherlands Forensic Institute / Netherlands Forensic Institute
Charles Berger

‘Interpreting Evidence: Evaluating Forensic Science in the Courtroom’ is a completely revised edition of the book that statistician Tony Vignaux and barrister Bernard Robertson (both in New Zealand) published in 1995. They collaborated with Charles Berger – principal scientist at the NFI and professor of Criminalistics at Leiden University – to write the fully revised new edition.

Surprisingly up-to-date

“It is surprising how up-to-date the revolutionary first edition of the book still was. The technology in the forensic world has changed a lot, but the logic for the interpretation of evidence is as valid as ever. This underlying logic remains the same and just as relevant for the latest technological developments”, says Berger.

Over 20 years ago, the book was far ahead of its time. “It made us look in a new way at how to assign value to evidence, how to interpret it”, Berger explains.

“And what the value is of evidence when you combine several items of evidence. I think the time is right, also internationally, for the scientific approach to interpreting evidence; the impact of the book in the legal and forensic world can therefore be even greater now.”

Image: ©Netherlands Forensic Institute / Netherlands Forensic Institute
Cover Interpreting Evidence

Written for legal practitioners and forensic scientists

The book explains the general principles of reasoning with evidence. "We explain the principles using real cases, Dutch cases too. And we show how errors of interpretation could have been avoided."

Berger, Vignaux and Robertson did not write the book for forensic scientists only. “We aimed to make it accessible for prosecutors, defence lawyers and judges that are reasoning with evidence. Which questions should they ask to be able to understand and value forensic reports and other evidence?”

Available from Wiley

The book is written in English and available via the Wiley website.