Frontline’s film, The Real CSI, takes aim at both forensic experts, alleging improper qualifications, and at forensic organizations alleging they certify unqualified individuals to act as expert witnesses in court cases. Regrettably, the show is terribly misguided in its criticisms of ACFEI. ACFEI does not, nor has it ever, bestowed degrees, university diplomas or state licenses on any individual. An expert witness in any case is determined by the judge based upon that person’s formal education, knowledge, experience and training regarding a specific topic, and not by any certificate that ACFEI has or has not awarded them.
The Frontline episode gives the false impression that ACFEI creates expert witnesses. As proof, Frontline offered Ms. Leah Bartos, a former graduate student who received certification that she completed the forensic consultant course. The forensic consultant certification means that she is now knowledgeable about the court process, rules of evidence, direct and cross-examinations, report writing, deposition preparation and testimony. This does not make her an expert. The training merely aids one who is already an expert, say in engineering, in understanding and navigating the judicial process. What Frontline suggested was that because of ACFEI’s certificate, Ms. Bartos was now somehow qualified to be an expert witness on any topic--as if now she had carte blanche to go into court and testify on any topic from rocket science to brain surgery--a premise that is false and misleading journalism.
Frontline also caught up with disgruntled former employee John Bridges and persuaded him to talk on camera. Mr. Bridges now calls the organization a diploma mill, but interestingly he remains a member and continues to refer new members to the organization. There was also criticism that 99% of applicants pass their test. The actual pass rate is approximately 86%.
Finally, Frontline seized upon some supposed errors of an alleged member of ACFEI. While ACFEI expresses no opinion as to the allegations, it certainly denies any responsibility therefore. Individuals in all professions make mistakes and must take individual responsibility for their own actions. Frontline’s attempt cast blame on ACFEI is akin to blaming AAA for an accident caused by one of its members. It is just not logical.
ACFEI strives to maintain a high level of excellence in its educational processes. That is why ACFEI is voluntarily actively pursuing additional accreditation for its certification and educational programs. ACFEI takes pride in the educational opportunities it provides its members. Hopefully, these certifications will enhance our members’ abilities to relate their existing expertise to a courtroom setting.blog comments powered by Disqus