In The News


2015-10-22 | Which Standards Are Standard? Differences between ISO/IEC 17025 and 17020 for forensic agencies
ISO/IEC 17025 is the standard for testing and calibration laboratories and ISO/IEC 17020 is the standard for inspection agencies. Both standards have equal weight as international standards and neither one is better than the other. Each standard is designed to meet certain criteria, and depending upon the situation, one maybe more appropriate than the other. Since many agencies and companies have labs as well as crime scene units, these entities achieve accreditation to both standards. This can be done within a singular assessment thereby eliminating the overlapping requirements. ISO/IEC 17025 and ISO/IEC 17020 both include very similar management system requirements based on ISO 9001:2008 (section 4 in ISO/IEC 17025 and clause 8 in ISO/IEC 17020). Beyond these ISO 9001-based requirements, the standards diverge significantly. ISO/IEC 17025 requirements are heavy with regard to measurement uncertainty, traceability, and analytical validation. ISO/IEC 17020 requirements, in contrast, focus more strongly on impartiality, independence, and confidentiality.

2015-10-22 | CSI: ISU? University gets millions for forensics center
Approved by the Iowa Board of Regents during its Thursday meeting, the Center for Statistics and Application in Forensic Evidence will be the only federally funded forensic sciences center in the nation. Its primary goal will be to build a statistical and scientific foundation under two branches of forensics: pattern evidence (everything from fingerprints and blood splatter to tool marks and shoe prints) and cyber forensics (things such as figuring out who put what data on cell phones and computers).

2015-10-20 | DNA by the Numbers
Nowadays increasing numbers of evidentiary traces are collected at crime scenes and submitted for DNA analysis at the forensic laboratories. However, almost 50% of the analyzed DNA samples do not result in valuable DNA typing information (1) and a few studies show that the possibility to actually obtain usable DNA profiles can depend on the trace type (2,3). Evaluating the DNA results obtained for various sampled traces can provide us information on which traces are most promising to select for DNA analysis. Such information can guide crime scene investigators in decision-making.

2015-10-08 | Review of old forensic hair cases begins
Massachusetts State Police began reviewing cases where its crime lab analysts conducted the kind of pre-DNA forensic hair analysis that has since been widely discredited, a review that parallels one by the FBI that has already led to wrongful convictions being reversed.

2015-10-08 | The Dark Side of DNA Databases
As news of these unexpected pairings swept the nation, lawyers in other cities pressed for similar searches. If there were 122 matches in a 65,000-person sized database, how many such matches might be found in the 11 million-person national database? But rather than embrace the inquiry, the FBI called the Arizona results “misleading” and “meaningless,” and suppressed the findings. FBI leaders reprimanded the Arizona lab, claiming that disclosing the results violated its agreement with the FBI. They further threatened to cut off access to the national database to any lab that independently conducted their own such studies.

2015-10-07 | Forensic backlogs threaten speedy trial rights, says DA
The backlog at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences is forcing them to wait, and one North Alabama district attorney is calling the situation "catastrophic." Colbert County DA Robert Bryce Jr. says this problem doesn't just affect him, it affects all of Alabama. He says if it gets worse, it could lead to an accused criminal walking right out of jail.

2015-10-05 | Did New York State Police scapegoat its crime lab scientists?
"There was no statistical significant difference on the examinations between any of these three groups," he said. "It's clear that they did talk and they did share, but over 90 percent if not more of what they were doing was their own work. ... The bottom line is they actually learned it quite well."

2015-10-05 | Who Should Have Access to DNA Evidence?
Next week, the West Virginia Supreme Court will hear a case in which 30 former prosecutors from around the country have taken the unusual step of siding with the defense. It’s a battle over a DNA test, and whether prosecutors must turn the results over to a defendant when they point to his innocence — even if he has made the decision to plead guilty.

EJI took on Mr. Dandridge's case and filed a new challenge to his conviction in November 2014. In those proceedings, EJI presented evidence from independent forensic experts who testified that their examination of the fingerprint evidence conclusively excluded Mr. Dandridge. The ABI's examiner had used unreliable procedures to compare the fingerprints and had ignored obvious differences that clearly showed the prints did not belong to Mr. Dandridge. Excluding Mr. Dandridge, the experts found that the fingerprints instead matched the victim's son, eliminating the State's most significant evidence against Mr. Dandridge. Earlier this week, the ABI acknowledged its examiner's error. The Montgomery County District Attorney asked Circuit Court Judge Truman Hobbs to order Mr. Dandridge's release, and the judge ordered Kilby Prison to release him immediately.

2015-10-01 | Lost evidence: Fingerprints rarely used in Oklahoma cases
Oklahoma police rarely fingerprint crime scenes, except for the most serious of cases, such as rape, murder, and arson. And even in those cases, evidence is sometimes handled by police, without gloves, before being shipped to a lab for analysis. The vast majority of felonies, however, are not fingerprinted at all. Fingerprinting is especially rare in rural areas.

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