In The News


2015-04-22 | Lab scandal scuttles Rockland murder sentencing
The analysts are accused of obtaining answers and other information for training exams on a new DNA testing system. They have been suspended after a six-month internal investigation, state police spokesman Beau Duffy said Tuesday. The state police are providing information to local prosecutors so they can evaluate their legal obligations regarding cases that involved the employees, Duffy said.

2015-04-22 | DNA as a Sketch Artist: How Forensic Science Benefits from Physical Predictions
Although the methods described above have advanced to a stage where preliminary predictions may assist investigators in some cases, much work remains. Many more genetic markers must be analyzed in more panels of participants. Likewise, there are many societal, ethical, and legal questions that should be addressed. How do we, as a society, embrace this new technology while exercising caution and vigilance about possible misuse? To what extent could new technologies be used, not just to capture bad guys, but also to prevent unnecessary dragnets of innocent people? And finally, are critics’ objections purely scientific and sociological, or is there an emotional layer of resistance when it comes to the face?

2015-04-21 | Fix the Flaws in Forensic Science
The problem is not limited to hair analysis. Last month, Alabama released a man from death row who had been convicted 30 years ago based solely on ballistics evidence; the state now concedes that the bullets in question did not actually match the weapon used. A few years earlier, Mississippi released two men who had been convicted of separate murders based on testimony that their teeth perfectly matched bite marks on the victims. After the true killer was later identified by DNA, experts concluded the wounds were not human bites after all but were most likely caused by crawfish and insects nibbling on the corpses.

2015-04-21 | The FBIs Flawed Hair Evidence under the Microscope
In one case, a prosecutor told the jury that there was a one in 10 million chance that the hair sample that implicated the defendant in the crime was from another individual, reports the New York Times. Subsequent DNA testing found that “none of the hair samples matched the defendant, and that one was from a dog.”

2015-04-19 | Standards needed for post-conviction review of scientific evidence
Injustices should be rectified, of course. But the Washington Post was perhaps negligent in not explaining the considerable progress that has been made in forensic science over the last 15 years. This omission left its readers with a skewed perception of the state of the art. It is time to establish standards of professional practice and conduct for those engaged in the post-conviction review of scientific evidence and the reporting of their results, either in the courtroom or in the press. This would build much needed confidence in the practice of post-conviction litigation, elevating its stature from activism to professionalism.

2015-04-19 | Advancements in technology help counties reduce crime rates
The technology only dreamed of decades ago is the norm in the way companies do business and none more so than in law enforcement. Technology is changing the way law enforcement officers conduct their work, which in turn helps reduce crime. Agencies who say they’ve been able to decrease crime in their communities say they’ve been able to do so with the help of technology and specialized investigations as well as a focus on the community policing of yesteryear.

2015-04-19 | FBI overstated forensic hair matches in nearly all trials before 2000
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

2015-04-18 | Validation and Incorporation of RapidHIT Technology into Routine Forensic DNA Casework
WHITE PARER ** The Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) acquired a RapidHIT instrument, which can produce a DNA profile in two hours, in December 2013. The lab uses this technology to generate automated sample-to-answer STR-based human identification for use in forensic DNA casework. Typical casework would include buccal swabs from suspects, in addition to evidence swabs and cuttings for lead investigation purposes. This white paper will describe the validation and incorporation of this Rapid DNA technology into their forensic casework.

2015-04-16 | Ancient Footprints Can Help to Understand Modern-Day Crime Scenes
“Once completed and made available, the software has the potential to make a significant difference to the way police forces and forensic agencies across the UK examine and interpret crime scenes,” explained Bennett, “By making the software much more cost effective and free to use, we can enable 3D imaging to become the norm rather than the exception when investigating crime scenes.”

2015-04-14 | DNA Testing Scandal Hits NY State Police
Another DNA testing scandal came to light this week after allegations surfaced that forensic analysts at a New York State Police crime lab had possibly cheated on a DNA qualification exam. Two state police supervisors were suspended in February, and 10 other scientists have been taken off casework as the investigation widens, reports The Times Union.

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