Koehler and Meixner on Empirical Research and Forensics

Jay Koehler and John Meixner have written “An Empirical Research Agenda for the Forensic Sciences,” available now on SSRN.  Here is the abstract: After the National Academy of Sciences issued a stunning report in 2009 on the unscientific state of many forensic science subfields, forensic science has undergone internal and external scrutiny that it had […]

True Allele DNA Used for First Time in Exoneration

True Allele DNA, which focuses on DNA mixtures, was used to exonerate an Indiana man who was released from prison yesterday. This is the first time True Allele testing has resulted in an exoneration. The exoneree, Darryl Pinkins, had been convicted in a 1989 rape. The True Allele test revealed that Pinkins’ DNA was not found […]

Making a Murderer and Forensics

Lucas Mentch, Maria Cuellar, William C. Thompson, and Clifford Spiegelman are re-examining the forensics in the Steven Avery case, sponsored by the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute, and with funding from the National Science Foundation – as described here.  One goal is to assess whether blood found in the victim’s car during the Avery investigation […]

Criminal Investigation Underway for Lab Technician Who Faked Results

Kamal Shah was removed from his position as a lab technician last December after he was observed faking results in a drug case. In February, the state Attorney General notified county prosecutors to alert defense attorneys in drug cases in which Shah’s work was used. This past Wednesday, Cynthia McSweeney, the highest ranking official at the […]

Former Massachusetts Drug Lab Chemist Annie Dookhan Released from Prison

Annie Dookhan was released about a month ago after serving approximately 2 years and 4 months of a three- to four-year sentence after pleading guilty to faking laboratory tests that may have affected a thousand or more criminal cases. Dozens of defendants were released from prison in the aftermath of the scandal. It is believed […]

Delays and Lack of Compensation Plague Texas’s Junk Science Law

Defendant Sonia Caci was convicted of murder by arson for the 1991 death of her uncle in house fire. At trial, an expert testified that there was evidence of an accelerant on the decedent’s clothes and on some of the furniture. Six years later, seven independent expert found that the decedent likely died of a heart attack. A […]

Harward Exonerated by DNA Evidence

Keith Allan Harward was released Friday, April 8th after being exonerated by DNA evidence. The Virginia Supreme Court declared Harward to be innocent the day prior. Harward was convicted in 1982, largely due to testimony by forensic odontologists who testified “to medical certainty” that Harward’s teeth imprints matched the bite marks on a rape victim. Harward’s […]

FBI’s biometric facial recognition system presents civil liberties issue

In the post-9/11 years, the FBI has been compiling a database of photographs for its biometric facial recognition system. While some of the photographs come from mugshots or soldiers who have taken pictures of suspected terrorists, other photos come from driver’s license pictures from state DMV offices, so that average citizens with no history of […]

Blood-typing error alleged in wrongful conviction

The case of Keith Allan Harward (discussed earlier this week in this post) has presented a concern about the misuse of serology evidence. The Richmond-Times Dispatch reports: “a former forensic serologist identified a blood type in semen left at the crime scene that supported the innocence of Harward but was not reported in the serologist’s testimony […]