You can’t look at the advent of next generation DNA sequencing, the speed at which the technology is advancing, and the rate at which the cost is dropping and—with any intellectual honesty—suggest that the forensic use of DNA is going to continue with blinders to anything phenotypic.
Efforts focusing on the protection and exoneration of the innocent through DNA technology in two countries may help bring about safer and more just societies.
The purpose of this article is to provide laboratories with an overview of a logical sequence towards, and identify the prerequisites required for, accreditation.
Judges and juries listen and look very closely to demeanor evidence to assess the credibility of forensic testimony. Research has repeatedly shown that demeanor evidence significantly determines court decisions.
It’s more than a little ironic that the week before the DNA of Ted Bundy, one of America’s most notorious serial killers, is entered into a DNA database, the First Appellate Court in California has ruled its arrestee database to be unconstitutional.
Despite some vocal criticisms and concerns regarding the practice of familial DNA searching, it is being increasingly considered. What that means for the forensic community remains to be seen, but for states that have moved forward with familial searching programs, protocols continue to be refined.
The courts have recently decided that single numerical values for blood and breath test results without a measure of uncertainty are inadmissible as they preclude objective interpretation.
A look at the effects of Briscoe v. Virginia and subsequent case law on the enforcement and application of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts.
In an interesting turn of its docket this year, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case with an almost identical issue as the controversial decision from last term’s Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts. However, the Court’s one-sentence opinion sent it back down to the Virginia Supreme Court, instructing its members to make their ruling consistent with last year’s. Melendez-Diaz provides clarity on the use of live testimony over the introduction of testimonial documents.
The Melendez-Diaz case ruling that lab analysts had to be available to testify if their analysis was submitted as evidence—has resurfaced as the U.S. Supreme Court consented to hear Briscoe v. Virginia.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed its class action law suit in California challenging the implementation of that state’s arrestee DNA database legislation. Fortunately for many potential victims and for many suspects, the Federal judge deciding the preliminary injunction has ruled against the ACLU.
The past several months have been full of contrasts and contradictions. We have seen fascinating cases solved illustrating the incredible effectiveness of forensic DNA technology.
As we continue to expand the national DNA database through broader sampling criteria in a growing number of states, the debate grows on the ethics of DNA collection and how the DNA database is administered.
The contentious 5-4 ruling in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts asserts that forensic analysts must testify under the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause granting defendants the right to confront witnesses against them.
In June, the United States Supreme Court issued one of its most significant opinions affecting the use of forensic science in the courtroom: Melendez-Diaz v.Massachusetts.
According to the much anticipated crime laboratory study report released by the National Academy of Science (NAS) on February 18, 2009, a “badly fragmented” forensic science system needs an overhaul.
A few months ago an entirely preventable tragedy occurred when a UCLA research assistant was burned over 43% of her body and died eighteen days later in a hospital burn unit. A quick glance at the compound’s MSDS might have prevented this terrible loss.
An open letter from ASCLD to Senator Patrick Leahy regarding the National Academy of Sciences report “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward.”
Several articles back, I said that it was about time that an independent research report confirmed that forensic DNA technology is particularly well suited for the investigation and prosecution of property crimes. The recently released study by the National Academy of Sciences is cause for a similar reaction.
For the last several years, the European Court of Human Rights has been considering the cases of 'S' and Marper v. the United Kingdom. On December 4, 2008, the Court issued its “Grand Chamber Judgment” considering the issue of the “retention of fingerprints, cellular samples, and DNA profiles after criminal proceedings were terminated by an acquittal."
To point out the obvious—the application of DNA technology to postconviction appeals has compelled more than a few changes to the U.S. criminal justice system.
The introduction of DNA technology into the forensic laboratory in the mid-1980s enabled laboratories to process a larger array of sample types and utilize more sophisticated tools to help answer difficult questions inherent in forensic casework.Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) methods were supplemented by hybridization-based technologies such as the DQA1/Polymarker kits, which became the first commercially available DNA typing kits for forensic use.
Historically, forensic science did not originate from a culture of research; rather, academicians and medical specialists applied their knowledge of basic science to questions of criminal activity. This has led to those involved in non-forensic academic circles to sometimes view forensic science as “only an applied science” or a lesser area of study.
Every criminal that the United States fails to convict on first offence goes on to commit, on average, an additional six crimes. It's a chilling thought, and it sits at the heart of one of the most pressing issues to face forensic science today; the DNA backlog.