In The News


2015-06-16 | US Prosecutor Now Sending Criminal DNA Testing In DC To Lab Run By His Girlfriend
Upon firing the lab’s staff, the mayor appointed the city’s Chief Medical Examiner, Roger Mitchell Jr., as interim director and gave him 30 days to come up with a corrective action plan for all of the lab’s work. That corrective action period has now passed and the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board, one of the agencies that initially audited the city’s lab, is currently conducting a follow-up audit, Bowser said at a Tuesday press conference.

2015-06-11 | Onondaga County crime lab sets policy to prevent recurrence of DA's staff erasing videos
"The examiner was asked to assist the investigator in deleting images from a camera," the lab's director, Kathleen Corrado, wrote two weeks ago in a letter to the lab's accrediting organization. "This request was not related to casework and the camera was not submitted to the laboratory as evidence."

2015-06-10 | Drug lab scandal still haunts Delaware
Delaware's criminal justice system is still reeling more than a year after the state's disgraced drug lab was shut down because of evidence thefts and tampering. The results have been staggering: The state has spent $1.6 million to send drug evidence to a private, out-of-state lab. The Public Defender's Office has filed 1,000 motions asking judges statewide to overturn past drug convictions. The Attorney General's Office has in more than 700 cases agreed to plea deals or dropped or reduced charges.

2015-06-02 | More than $100K needed for test to ID identical twin rapist
The student, then 26, was walking to her car after a night class at Kendall College of Art and Design downtown when she was attacked in November 1999. Traditional DNA tests identified the suspect as Jerome Cooper, of Twin Lake, but police later learned he has a twin brother, Tyrone. The identical twins have identical problems: Both have histories of sexual assault and neither had an alibi. Both are now free. They have denied the attack.

2015-05-30 | FBI alerts crime labs across U.S. that its DNA data has errors
The FBI has notified crime labs across the country that it has discovered errors in data used by forensic scientists in thousands of cases to calculate the chances that DNA found at a crime scene matches a particular person.

2015-05-29 | In D.C. Lab Scandal, Mayor Accused of Foul Play
Jay Siegel, a forensic scientist of more than 40 years, wrote a scathing letter of resignation addressed to Mayor Muriel Bowser. The letter stoked speculation that the mayor and the District Attorney’s office may have ordered the two audits that eventually shut down DNA testing at the lab in an alleged political power grab.

2015-05-26 | Should texts, e-mail, tweets and Facebook posts be the new fingerprints in court?
“There are disputes about the acceptability” of linguistic evidence in court, says Lawrence Solan, a professor of law at Brooklyn Law School who served as president of the 175-member International Association of Forensic Linguists. The sometimes acrimonious controversy, he explains, hinges on the state of the science — whether linguists can provide reliable statistics on their accuracy or “error rate.” Solan describes an “intellectual and cultural divide” between practitioners such as Fitzgerald who use what he calls an “intuitive” approach, examining among other things idiosyncrasies in spelling and word choice to see whether “constellations of features emerge”; and computer scientists, who perform statistical analyses of such features as character sequences or word length, often by running large amounts of text through software programs. Solan hopes a convergence of those methods might provide sounder science.

2015-05-18 | DNA Evidence Exonerates Canadian Tourist Murder Suspect
Even though Wadsworth took Grant’s DNA at the May interrogation, Dobard’s attorneys say an evidence submission form shows that Wadsworth did not send in Grant’s DNA to be tested until October — 5 months after Wadsworth got Grant’s DNA. All the while Twane Dobard sat in jail on a murder rap and he and his attorneys say they were never told of the DNA results that would have exonerated him.

2015-05-15 | Field Drug Tests Confuse Candy for Meth, Cause Serious Concern
A 2008 report entitled “False Positive Equal False Justice” was commissioned by the defense-attorney organization California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. The authors, who included former FBI chief scientist and narcotics officer Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, found a series of instances where false positives resulted in arrests or criminal charges that were only negated after further lab testing. They included a Pennsylvania college student who was carrying condoms filled with flour, which were misidentified as carrying cocaine in 2003; and also Don Bolles, a drummer for the punk band The Germs, who was detained for possessing the date-rape drug GHB – but which turned out to be soap. A couple was also briefly arrested when their chocolate turned up a false positive for hashish

2015-05-15 | Witness Accounts in Midtown Hammer Attack Show the Power of False Memory
These are not the knowingly untrue or devious statements of people who are deliberately lying. False memories can be as persuasive as genuine ones, Dr. Loftus said: “When someone expresses it with detail and confidence and emotion, people are going to believe it.” Said Dr. Strange, “It is surprising to the average person how quickly memories can be distorted.”

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