A June 27th Dallas News article recently sparked public outcry when it revealed that over eight hundred moldy rape kits were found decaying in the Austin Police Department. Rape kits have had a long history as crucial components of the forensic process for sexual assault cases. The first rape kit was developed in the 1970s… Read More Backlogs and Bylaws: The Tainted Story of Texas Rape Kit Testing
The Supreme Court’s ruling this past week in McWilliams v. Dunn, on its face is about the ability of a defendant facing the death penalty to put on a meaningful defense case concerning mental health evidence. Thirty-one years ago, the Alabama trial court denied all of the defendant’s requests for expert assistance. And that is… Read More Due Process and Access to Experts
Last week the Hartford CT judge ordered Alfred Swinton, who had been imprisoned since 1991 freed. For coverage of Mr. Swinton walking free, see this article in the Harford Courant. He said: “Freedom, freedom. It feels so good.” New DNA tests on a range of evidence, including scrapings from the victims fingernails and DNA testing of saliva… Read More New DNA Reversal in Bitemark Case
Listen or read here as NPR’s Science Friday discusses the state of forensics. Suzanne Bell, describes: that there is a “big disconnect that has led people to believe that forensic science is fine—it’s in good shape, it’s funded, it’s supported—when in fact it’s not,” “If we’re not going to cough it up for justice, what are… Read More Science Friday on Forensics
A new paper by Bradford T. Ulery, R. Austin Hicklin, Maria Antonia Roberts, and JoAnn Buscaglia, titled “Factors associated with latent fingerprint exclusion determinations,” was recently published in FSI. Until July 7, it can be downloaded for free here. The authors noted the high rate of erroneous exclusions reported in their prior 2011 Black Box… Read More When do Fingerprints Exclude?
Officials at the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab have elected to employ familial searching as a means to identify close relatives of potential suspects in cold cases. Familial searching, in contrast to conventional DNA identification, uses partial matches or commonalities to identify individuals with a similar DNA profiles. This process allows law enforcement to identify relatives… Read More Lousiana Employing New DNA Technology to Re-Visit Cold Cases
The Boston Globe reports that tampering charges levied against Annie Dookhan, a former Massachusettes state chemist, will result in thousands of drug-related convictions to be vacated. Overall, Dookhan was involved in 24,000 convictions and over 40,000 cases. Only a few hundred of those convictions are set to remain. She admitted to over 24 charges of… Read More Thousands of Convictions to be Vacated Amid Massachusettes Chemist’s Tampering Charges