Topics for discussion
On March 28, 2012, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a full committee hearing on the science and standards of forensics.
The Committee is in the process of developing forensics legislation. The hearing was to serve as an opportunity to examine the role of federal science agencies in improving science and standards, including the longstanding work of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in its advancement of forensic science. The hearing also examined means by which the National Science Foundation could provide opportunities for basic research and graduate education in forensic fields.
The Witness Panel consisted of:
- Dr. Eric S. Lander, President, Broad Institute of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Co-Chair, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Professor of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Professor of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA;
- The Honorable Patrick D. Gallagher, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce;
- The Honorable Subra Suresh, Director of the National Science Foundation.
The hearing were held on March 28, 2012, and may be viewed at: http://t.co/QMv7o51E. (Please note there is a 13 minute delay before the audio and video is available.)
Question: Are the efforts made by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation the best approach to help address forensic science oversight?
Reports on forensic science come and go, but one constant need is better communications between forensic scientists, attorneys, the judiciary, and, for that matter, the public. Law schools, professional organizations, and other entities periodically hold symposia or workshops that address topics that provide guidance and information for attorneys to help them with the communication gap, but the speakers at these gatherings consist mainly of lawyers talking to other lawyers. (continue reading…)
The annual AAFS meeting will be held February 20-25, 2012 and we thought it would be informative to mention something about this organization. (The information is liberally adopted from the AAFS’ website.) (continue reading…)
Networking is important for forensic science practitioners and to students who hope to enter the field. There are many fine professional organizations to choose from. The following is an abbreviated list of ones to consider: (continue reading…)
Forensic science continues to be a sought after career path. Two academic tracks are worth consideration for anyone considering forensic science as a professional goal: undergraduate or graduate studies in traditional science programs (chemistry, biology, bio-chemistry, and the like) or more specialize academic program which focus more heavily on forensic science elements.
In your opinion, what are the main causes for casework backlogs? What solutions have you tried and did they work? If not, why not?
The Nassau County Police laboratory, the Forensic Evidence Bureau (FEB) was shut down after critical reports by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASLCD/LAB) and a subsequent review by the New York State Inspector General. The IG report may be reviewed at: (continue reading…)
What does the closure of the Forensic Science Service labs mean for the UK and other forensic services, world wide? (continue reading…)
In September 2009 we reported that the U.S. Supreme Court held in the Melendez-Diaz case that expert testimony falls under the 6th Amendment that gives the right of the defendant the right to face adverse witnesses and to cross examine them. Since that time, new cases have come forward. In June 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court Case, Bullcoming v. New Mexico, ruled as follows: (continue reading…)
Forensic DNA testing has seen the use of statistics in forensic science beginning with the start of DNA testing, only about 20 years ago. This is a new area for experts to educate lay juries in how to interpret what constitutes a “match” between two items of evidence.
How do we adapt our methods to a (possibly new kind of) statistical basis and (2) how do we best communicate statistical results to laypersons?