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Science News - March 28, 2013

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Posted: March 28, 2013   1:50 PM

Texas courts consider cases that may have been tainted by fabricated lab results, an automated DNA processing system reduces case backlogs in Ohio, and a Texas man convicted of arson will get a new trial based on new scientific evidence. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:
In Texas, the Court of Criminal Appeals is hearing cases in which a former Houston Department of Public Safety crime lab worker may have fabricated drug testing results. With over 30 counties affected by these tests, prosecutors are determining the best way to proceed. Numerous cases have already been dismissed.
The authors of Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom discuss the importance of accurately presenting data in court in a recent Huffington Post blog. Even in DNA identification, prosecutors and defense attorneys alike can easily misinterpret and misrepresent match probabilities.
An overturned California murder conviction based on faulty bite mark analysis raises questions about how many prior convictions are based on outdated forensic disciplines or methods. Such questions underscore the need to develop a stronger scientific foundation within forensics.
A new automated DNA analysis system has allowed an Ohio crime lab to greatly reduce a biological evidence backlog from six months to around four weeks. The new system can process evidence overnight and can repeat the extraction and testing process of DNA evidence without human intervention.
Ed Graf of Texas will get a new trial 25 years after his conviction of killing his two stepsons in a fire. Graf’s case was one of several flagged by the Texas State Fire Marshal and the Innocence Project of Texas for outdated arson evidence.

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