The most frequent and understandable critique I hear of Garcia and the FSC is that they've bitten off too much, a concern Garcia herself voiced in the article. IMO, however, that's a function of the times in which she's performing this work. As Grits readers are aware, we stand on the precipice of a fundamental re-evaluation of forensics which has only begun to be considered at USDOJ or in other American states. Elsewhere in the world, the topic has yet to be seriously considered.
For example, judging from this recent report from the U.K.'s Chief Science Adviser and related coverage, forensics in the U.K. appear not to have begun confronting the lack of scientific grounding underlying many disciplines in the way that the United States and particularly Texas have done following the 2009 National Academy of Sciences report, "Strengthening Forensic Science: A Path Forward." (Hall's story has a good, brief description of Texas' reaction to this event.)
Instead, the Science Adviser wants the U.K. to apply those disciplines to new areas. The report discussed the "challenges" facing modern forensics but included nothing about improving rigor or performing basic research to justify or discard junk science. Instead, it suggests forensics can make greater contributions beyond the justice system, without qualifying the claim to say that many traditional forensics have never been validated.
In that light, FSC Chairman Vincent DiMaio's boast in the TM story that, “Texas is pioneering. We’re so far ahead—everyone else is eating our dust,” really isn't far off. As Michael Hall put it:
The FSC has emerged as one of the most important forensic science policy groups in the country, one trying to fix serious problems—in particular, how to stop convicting innocent people based on outmoded science. Other states, including New York and Delaware, have similar commissions, but Texas has had the most success at bringing about reform.Texas pols like to think of themselves as "leaders" on everything - even topics on which the state notably brings up the rear of the pack. But in this case, such grandiloquence is justified. USDOJ is ahead of other nations when it comes to reevaluating forensics, and the FSC's case-review program is several steps ahead of the feds. That's a good thing, if also a cause for caution. Pioneering is dangerous business, but somebody's got to do it.