In The News


2016-03-01 | FBI Can Use Dead Suspects' Fingerprints To Open iPhones -- It Might Be Cops' Best Bet
Marina Medvin, owner of Medvin Law, told me that though 4th Amendment privacy protections could cause an issue for a living person, ”once you are dead, you don’t have legal standing to assert a 4th Amendment privacy violation”. “Stated more simply: Your privacy wasn’t violated, because you are dead. And you can’t stand before the court to assert such a concept, because you are dead. And your family can’t assert it on your behalf because the 4th Amendment cannot be invoked on behalf of someone else; it’s a personal privacy protection,” Medvin added. The FBI would have to move fast to unlock the device, however. Any iPhone that hasn’t been opened with a fingerprint within 48 hours requires a passcode be entered. But as Medvin noted, it would be hard for anyone to contest a search of someone’s device when they’re deceased, so police could act swiftly without fear of a legal challenge.

2016-02-24 | Getting More from Trace DNA from Fingernails
Based on the results, a protocol was developed that was applied to scratchings, wherein females scratched male volunteers on the forearm using a set amount of force, and scratchings were processed using the most effective procedures. The prevalence of cell loss or cross contamination using certain nail processing techniques was also examined, as was cell loss and cross contamination during nail transport and the influence of nail polish. Overall, this study identified strengths and weaknesses in each step of fingernail evidence processing.

2016-02-24 | Bite-mark recommendation raises tougher questions
Their work — several studies that found the science behind bite-mark analysis unsound — helped lay the foundation for a landmark recommendation by the Texas Forensic Science Commission to ban the form of evidence from being used in the courtroom.

2016-02-24 | Can New Nebraska State Patrol Crime Lab Reduce "Frustrating" Evidence Delays?
“I think the numbers speak for themselves,” Beadle said. “I don't know why it's taken this long, because this is so important,” agreeing the delays impact hundreds of cases annually. The state patrol’s leadership said they are aware of the concerns, and look to efficiencies and new technology at the lab to improve turnaround time for evidence processing.

2016-02-20 | Texas becomes first state to recommend banning bite mark analysis
"We believe this is the reason why several folks who have previously been convicted on the basis of bite mark evidence have been exonerated," said Dr. Harvey Kessler, a Commissioner for the Texas Forensic Science Commission. "They were able to go back and test the DNA and show that their DNA didn't match the DNA that was in the bite mark." At least two dozen men nationwide convicted or charged with murder or rape based on bite marks have been exonerated since 2000.

2016-02-20 | Scientists Sue State Police Over 'Pro-Prosecution' DNA Lab
The three scientists said that had the system remained in place, it would have exonerated "a small percentage" of suspects who were convicted using evidence involving scenes with mixed genetic material. "There are people that are very pro-prosecution. They were putting pressure on scientists to reach conclusions that were not scientifically valid," their lawyer, John Bailey, said Friday. "That's what my clients were objecting to."

2016-02-19 | NYC Doctor Says She Lost Job after Questioning DNA Technique
Dr. Marina Stajic said she was told she could either retire or be fired from her job as a laboratory director in April 2015. She says she was perceived as an adversary because of her position on the use of the DNA profiling technique known as low copy number, which critics have argued is unreliable and should not be used in court.

2016-02-19 | After A Years-Long Fight, With DNA Evidence At The Center, Ronjon Cameron Is Free
DNA testing has earned a reputation as a powerful tool to solve crimes and to exonerate the innocent. In fact, it’s often referred to as the “gold standard” for cases. But because of its sway over jurors, the results of DNA testing can also be misused. The state’s highest court recently ruled that’s what happened to Ronjon Cameron, of Pittsfield. Cameron had spent the last 12 years in prison after being convicted on charges of rape. At the end of October 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial.

2016-02-19 | Serial Burglars: Part 1 - Fingerprint backlog contributing to Austin's #1 crime
Last year Austin Police said there were 4,983 cases of burglaries, 3,285 of those cases were home burglaries. "Burglary is definitely an issue," Lt. Jason Staniszewski, Austin Police Burglary Unit, said. "They (serial burglars) basically keep going until they get caught." Lt. Staniszewski said serial burglars are responsible for a large portion of property crimes. "The important thing is that we do identify a serial burglar or a serial criminal and do what we can to get him off the streets so there are less victims," he said. At the department's forensics lab, six latent fingerprint examiners painstakingly work to match prints. Each examiner can review about 28 sets of prints each month but getting to fingerprints recently found at a crime scene can take six months even a year. That's because the department's backlog sits at 1,487.

2016-02-17 | Forensic Imaging Sheds Light on Footwear Analysis
Lead author Dr. James Sharp, of the University of Nottingham, used cameras positioned underneath a transparent sheet of material to image the shoes as they hit the ground. The team then created detailed images of the ridges on the soles of shoes and the exact interactions with the floor—possibly the most detailed of its kind. Traditional FTIR maps only made imprints of bare feet.

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