NIJ Journal: Fighting Crime with Science

The National Institute of Justice wrote in its most recent journal about research and developmental projects used to improve forensic science disciplines. These efforts include: studying drugs at electronic music festivals and using this information to understand how people are modifying popular drugs, as well as studying the regional use of these drugs; reconstructing fragmentary skeletal […]

Nebraska Debates Collection of DNA Upon Arrest

State Sen. Bob Hilkemann introduced Legislative Bill 1054 that would allow for collection of a suspect’s DNA upon arrest for specific felonies. The bill lists out 17 violent felonies, as well as burglary and robbery. State Sen. Ernie Chambers expressed concerns that police would arrest individuals for the purpose of obtaining their DNA sample. In […]

Massachusetts judge overturns 24-year-old rape conviction based on hair testimony that would not be admissible today

Defendant George D. Perrot has been in jail for the past 30 years, serving two concurrent life sentences for a rape. Both Perrot and the victim of the crime have repeatedly asserted that Perrot was not the man who committed the crime. A Massachusetts judge overturned the conviction in a 79-page decision describing a defendant […]

Williams v. U.S. Opinion

The concurring opinion in Williams v. U.S., 2016— A.3d —-2016 WL 275301 (D.C. Ct. App. Jan. 21, 2016) is now available.  Below are excerpts: EASTERLY, Associate Judge, concurring: In our adversarial system, we do not expect trial courts to “recognize on [their] own” that an expert’s testimony is “scientifically unorthodox or controversial.” (John ) Jones v. […]

D.C. Court of Appeals Opinion on “Alarming” Presentation of Ballistics

Despite a 2009 policy barring such “absolute” conclusions about ballistics, in the Marlon Williams trial in 2010, a D.C. police analyst testified: “Those markings are unique to that gun and that gun only,” and that gun “fired these three bullets.”  Spenser Hsu of the Washington Post reports that D.C. Court of Appeals judge Catherine Easterly wrote a […]

D.C. Court of Appeal Judge Faults Overstated Gun-Match Claims

The Washington Post reported on the recent opinion issued by the D.C. Court of Appeals, in which in the concurring opinion Judge Catharine Easterly wrote about the dangers of overstating claims that “forensic experts can match a bullet or shell casing found at a crime scene to a specific weapon.” Judge Easterly wrote that these claims […]

“Persistent Forensics Lab Problems Undermine Faith in Our Criminal Justice System”

While scientific evidence is often very compelling and can be a prosecutor’s “ace-in-the-hole,” the justice system needs to be on guard for experts who fabricate results, use shoddy testing techniques, or testify outside their areas of expertise. Recent problems with tampering and fabrication by forensic experts have lead to the review of thousands of cases. […]

Link of Witness Misidentifications to DNA Exonerations Leads to Eyewitness Identification Reform Act

In Miami,  nine of the past twelve exonerations of a convicted person relied heavily on witness identification. This has led legislators and defense attorneys to agree that most DNA exonerations involve faulty suspect identifications. As a result, Miami legislators have introduced the Eyewitness Identification Reform Act to commission specific procedures that would strengthen lineups in identifying possible suspects. Proposed […]