In The News


2016-10-21 | Court: Forensic Errors Call for Reviews
Arkansas’ high court issued opinions Thursday sending two cases back to lower courts to consider whether flawed testimony from FBI forensics experts is enough to overturn the convictions of two men. The justices said there was enough evidence to ask the lower courts to consider the arguments made by attorneys in both cases for writs of error coram nobis, a legal move that allows a court to reopen a case when a substantial error is found that did not appear in the original judgment. In the cases Thursday, the error at issue is the testimony of an FBI expert on microscopic hair analysis.

2016-10-18 | DWI forensic expert accused of perjury, mixing up lab tests
Grant says Youngkin has testified multiple times about that incident and given conflicting accounts. "He's given different answers in different trials that are the opposite of each other, and only one of them can be true,” she explained. Defense Attorney George Milner says his client, who did not want to be shown on camera, was recently acquitted in a DWI case where Youngkin admitted his 2013 error. "The jury told me after the trial, they didn't believe anything he said,” Milner said.

2016-10-13 | Firearms Evidence Allowed in Chicago Hobos Gang Trial – Despite PCAST Argument
The judge ruled against the defendants’ Daubert motion last week, saying that the PCAST report had not invalidated all firearms comparisons – and the evidence was pertinent to the ongoing Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, proceedings. “In short, the PCAST report does not undermine the general reliability of firearm toolmark analysis or require exclusion of the proffered opinions in this case,” the judge ruled last week.

2016-10-11 | Did Failures at APD’s Crime Lab Lead to Sexual Assaults in Houston?
The man accused of committing the rape responsible in part for shutting down Austin Police's crime lab was, until Tuesday, in custody in Harris County, where he's been charged with the sexual assault of two other individuals. Both assaults were committed recently – in 2014 and this year – well after the rape that occurred in Austin, and well after APD first began to struggle with its examination and analysis of the evidence gathered from that rape.

2016-09-30 | DNA leads to arrest in 26-year-old double murder
Cornell credited the 2009 law that requires DNA testing for those arrested for felonies for helping break the case. “When you are looking for someone who killed people you loved you just get more hope,” she said. ”If (Zieler) never got in trouble this case would never be solved. This is the beginning of the end.” The Lee County Sheriff’s Office notified Cape Coral police when Zieler's DNA received a hit on CODIS, Newlan said. Further DNA from Zieler was obtained and tested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The results came back positive with evidence collected in the apartment at Courtyards of Cape Coral Condominiums.

2016-09-28 | Upstate NY man acquitted of murder, in landmark DNA case
The prosecution’s case originally featured DNA-mixture interpretation produced by the probabilistic genotyping software called STRmix. But Judge Felix Catena threw out that genetic evidence just before the bench trial began, finding it did not pass the threshold for scientific validity – and that it was “unduly prejudicial to the defendant.”

2016-09-26 | Justice Department Says No Thanks to Forensic Science Report
Common crime lab techniques made famous by shows like Law & Order have come under fire yet again—this time by President Obama’s top scientific advisers. A damning report released this week by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology calls into question the scientific basis of the forensic analysis of bite marks, mixed DNA samples, hair samples, and footwear, among other techniques. In spite of the esteemed origin of the report, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the Justice Department wouldn’t heed the findings.

2016-09-24 | Justice Department Says No Thanks to Forensic Science Report
The brush-off from the nation’s top cop might come as a surprise, but it’s worth noting that prosecutors have relied on evidence garnered by these techniques to win cases for decades. The FBI was also quick to release a statement asserting that the report made many “unsupported assertions” about forensic science. If a growing list of widely accepted forensic analysis techniques is called into question—as it just was—what does that leave prosecutors?

2016-09-09 | St. Paul shooting suspect’s fingerprints were on victim’s car, murder charges say
“Our Forensic Services Unit worked tenaciously, and our Special Investigations Unit worked tirelessly alongside the U.S. Marshals to apprehend Benjamin Harris,” St. Paul Police Senior Cmdr. Tina McNamara said in a statement. “At the end of the day, our city is a safer place. Hopefully the victim’s family can take away a small amount of solace knowing that the person responsible for their loved one’s death will be held responsible.”

2016-09-08 | ‘Forensics game-changer’: DNA may have met its match in new identification technique
US government scientists say a new method of analysing genetic mutations in proteins in human hair could lead to the first forensic technique other than DNA profiling that could reliably match biological evidence to a single person with scientific precision. In results published Wednesday, US Energy Department researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California said their early study - using hairs recovered from 76 living people and six sets of skeletal remains from London dating to the 1750s - shows the promise of hair “proteomics”, or the study of proteins that genes produce. “We are in a very similar place with protein-based identification to where DNA profiling was during the early days of its development,” said Brad Hart, director of the national laboratory’s Forensic Science Centre and co-author of the study with lead researcher Glendon Parker. “This method will be a game-changer for forensics,” Hart said, while cautioning that many steps remain before it is validated.

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