In The News


2015-07-14 | Man exonerated of rape after DNA 'match' turns out to not be his
Jeremy Gatzke's life was shattered after being arrested for raping an Albuquerque woman, being labeled a sexual criminal and being stuck behind bars pending his trial. But the DNA meant to convict him wasn't his, and if it hadn't happened to him, it very well could have happened to you. "Hell" is how Gatzke describes the last two years of his life. He spent 14 months awaiting a chance to defend himself against what seemed indefensible. His wife left him, he was labeled a monster. But he wasn't one.

2015-07-14 | Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner chemist fired over botched test, county retests hundreds of samples
The medical examiner's office tests drug, blood and tissue samples and conducts autopsies for Northeast Ohio police departments in criminal cases and accidental deaths. Officials in the office have reviewed 673 cases that Sran processed since Dec. 1, 2014. They found errors in 27 of those cases, medical examiner's spokesman Christopher Harris said.

Fingerprints have been used by law enforcement and forensics experts to successfully identify people for more than 100 years. Though fingerprints are assumed to be infallible personal identifiers, there has been little scientific research to prove this claim to be true. As such, there have been repeated challenges to the admissibility of fingerprint evidence in courts of law.

2015-07-07 | Too Much Touch DNA Evidence Overwhelms a Texas County Crime Lab
Touch DNA testing has proven increasingly effective in solving and prosecuting crimes, from homicides to burglaries, where murderers and thieves leave skin cells on weapons, walls and tools. But it’s almost too much of a success in places like Harris County, Texas – where the total DNA testing caseload has nearly doubled in about five years. Now the county’s crime lab is suspending use of touch DNA samples when it comes to property crimes. The success has been striking. Some 800 “hits” have been reached through the property-crime samples since 2008, leading to many prosecutions, Kahn said. “The CODIS results are overwhelming,” he said.

2015-07-06 | Problems with using CDs/DVDs to store digital evidence
There are many evidence related and technical problems with using CDs/DVDs to store your digital evidence data, if you haven’t experienced any of these issues yet, consider yourself lucky. A few of these problems are:

2015-07-06 | New method could help estimate time of death for a ten-day-old corpse
Despite the value of this information, it is currently not possible to estimate time of death in a reliable way after about 36-72 hours. But now a new test for calculating the exact time of death after as many as ten days has been developed. However, the method, which works by tracking the degradation of protein in muscles, has only been tested in pigs so far.

2015-07-06 | Raw vs. TIFF for Digital Camera Capture
Someone from a major law enforcement agency recently asked me for my opinion regarding the best choice between capturing raw or TIFF files from a digital camera. His concern was that the raw workflow is slower, results in duplicate images (the raw original files and the working TIFF files), and that the raw files are proprietary, and therefore different for each camera brand. Please note that this is only about digital camera capture – not about captures from flatbed scanners.

2015-07-04 | Evaluation of the Forensic DNA Unit Efficiency Improvement Program
Several important contributions to the field have occurred through NIJ’s grant program. Some prominent examples from each of the sites include drawing attention to the need for more comprehensive and standardized laboratory information management system (LIMS) databases as San Francisco did, widening the eligibility for expert systems use as in Kansas City, University of North Texas Center for Human Identification’s creation of an expert system to decrease time spent on one of the most time-consuming steps of mitochondrial DNA analysis, instituting robotics that allows staff to spend time on other tasks such as at Allegheny County and the other sites, and demonstrating how organizational changes can have significant impacts on DNA processing like in Louisiana.

2015-07-04 | Crime-scene DNA errors spark complex legal questions
Recent admissions by the FBI involving data errors in calculating DNA probabilities are challenging the infallibility of DNA evidence, a science with a longstanding reputation of as the forensic gold standard. Prosecutors and bureau officials say the mistakes will have a minimal effect on criminal cases, but the real impact of the revelations in courtrooms across the country remains to be seen.

2015-07-03 | B.C. judge admonished for doing too much homework
“A judge may only rely upon the evidence presented at trial, except where judicial notice may be taken,” stated Justice Mary Saunders. “Judicial notice of course, is limited to facts that are notorious or generally beyond debate,” added Saunders, with justices Pamela Kirkpatrick and Daphne Smith concurring, in the ruling issued Jan. 23. Funt’s actions were “well intentioned” even if they were outside what he was permitted to do as a trial judge, says Jeffrey Ray, who represented Bornyk at the Court of Appeal.

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