In The News


2016-11-23 | Nearly 9 In 10 Crime Labs Were Accredited In 2014, Up From 2002
At the end of 2014, 88 percent of the nation's 409 publicly funded forensic crime laboratories were accredited by a professional forensic science organization, which was up from 82 percent at yearend 2009 and 70 percent at yearend 2002, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board, International, was the most common type of accreditation in 2014.

2016-11-21 | 20K DWI cases up in the air after officer accused of records tampering. What's next?
Officials from the state Division of Criminal Justice, which brought the charges against Dennis, said in correspondence obtained through a public records request that the temperature check — while legally required under a decision known as State v. Chun — is not scientifically necessary.

2016-11-21 | In a National First, HFSC Begins Blind Testing in DNA, Latent Prints
The blind testing program goes beyond the demands of accreditation, which require analysts to undergo periodic proficiency testing. In every crime lab in the nation, however, analysts know when they are taking a proficiency test. Under HFSC’s blind testing program analysts in five sections do not know whether they are performing real casework or simply taking a test. The test materials are introduced into the workflow and arrive at the laboratory in the same manner as all other evidence and casework.

2016-11-20 | How to keep up with the scientific literature
Few aspects of scientific work may be as crucial—and yet as easy to neglect—as reading the literature. Beginning a new research project or writing a grant application can be good opportunities for extensive literature searches, but carving out time to keep abreast of newly published papers on a regular basis is often challenging. The task is all the more daunting today, with the already vast literature continuing to grow at head-spinning speed.

2016-11-16 | New plan to fix Austin’s DNA Lab after closure due to widespread issues
In a letter obtained by KXAN, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt carefully explains to the legal community, including the incoming district attorney and sheriff, the “major downstream effect” caused by the problems uncovered at the Austin Police Department’s DNA lab. The widespread issues at the crime lab led to its closure in June.

2016-11-14 | ‘Junk science’ law exonerates woman of murder
Later evidence found the toxicologist’s report was faulty and that the fire was started accidentally. Cacy was released from prison on parole, but was never exonerated and had to report to a parole officer once a month for 17 years.

2016-11-07 | State Crime Lab improving, but police still need to fill gaps
The State Crime Lab economizes in some ways. Starting last year, the lab suspended a long list of services like testing guns used in suicides. It also tests just enough evidence. In the recent conviction of Rontel Royster for cocaine trafficking, for instance, there were several large bags of white powder. The lab tested enough to meet the legal standard for trafficking. The rest of it, Royster’s lawyer could claim, was just untested white powder. “When the lab does not test some of the evidence, it looks like a shoddy investigation,” Johnson said.

2016-11-03 | Questions about ex-BCI scientist may cast doubt on convictions
Their concerns included that she presented evidence in the best light for prosecutors instead of objectively, used suspect methods while examining trace evidence from some crime scenes, and made mistakes that, as one former attorney general put it, “could lead to a substantial miscarriage of justice.”

2016-11-01 | New Portable Forensic Tech Captures Shoe Prints Instantly in 3-D
Researchers are developing a new type of portable crime-scene forensics technology designed to take precise high-resolution 3-D images of shoeprints and tire tread marks in snow and soil. The system will cost around $5,000, which is about one-tenth the cost of systems commercially available, and represents an alternative to the traditional method of plaster casting, said Song Zhang, an associate professor in Purdue University's School of Mechanical Engineering.

2016-10-28 | DPS forensic analyst questioned about lab sample mistakes
The deposition had nothing to do with any allegations of prosecutorial misconduct but rather the questions surrounding the on-going testimony of one of the state’s leading witnesses in DWI cases. His testimony was so troubling, seven Collin County judges ordered the deposition, and representatives from several county district attorney’s offices were present.

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