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Science Thursday - July 19, 2012

Posted: July 19, 2012 12:00 pm

The science committees of both houses of Congress introduced a bill to address forensic science issues, hair comparison is still used beyond its scientific parameters, and problems are identified at crime labs in North Carolina and Minnesota. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:
 
Sen. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV of the Senate Commerce Committee and Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Donna Edwards and Daniel Lipinski of the House Committee on Science introduced the Forensic Science and Standards Act of 2012 amid concerns raised by a recent Washington Post investigative series that exposed the use of faulty microscopic hair comparisons in the wrongful convictions of three men.
 
Despite the recent Washington, DC cases that demonstrated the problems with microscopic hair comparison techniques, the practice is still being used.
 
The St. Paul Police Crime Lab shut down its controlled drug analysis unit after a court case revealed that the lab lacks written standard operating procedures for drug analysis and evidence handling, and conducts no ongoing proficiency testing for staff in its controlled substances laboratory.
 
North Carolina prosecutors have been scrambling to identify cases that could have been compromised by forensic analysts who did not pass their certification tests. The Buncombe County District Attorney filed a motion to compel the state to turn over information about the failed exams.



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Science Thursday - July 26, 2012

Posted: July 26, 2012 7:40 pm

Lawyers and Judges consider the “CSI effect” in Ohio, a Texas analyst is being sued for misrepresenting the results of a drug test, and problems at a Minnesota lab cast doubt on thousands of cases. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:
 
Lawyers and judges in Ohio discuss whether there is a “CSI effect” altering jurors expectations
 
The Texas analyst handling most of the drug testing for the Dallas County family courts system faces a lawsuit from a father involved a custody dispute who alleges that the analyst misrepresented the results of a drug test.
 
Problems at the St. Paul Police Department Crime Laboratory have cast doubt on forensic results in thousands of cases.



Tags: Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - August 2, 2012

Posted: August 2, 2012 12:00 pm

The U.S. forensic pathologist shortage, fallout from problems at a Minnesota crime lab, and New York State’s burgeoning medical examiner system—here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:

The Wall Street Journal reports that there is a shortage of forensic pathologists – an estimated 1,000 fewer forensic pathologists than are needed to provide adequate coverage in the United States.

Scrutiny of the St. Paul Police Department Crime Lab has drawn attention to 18 other police crime labs in Minnesota that may also be operating under poor standards.

 The Star Tribune profiles the county public defenders who helped discover systemic failings at the St. Paul Police Department Crime Lab.

Plans to replace a New York county’s coroner system with a medical examiner are underway and should be implemented by the first of the year.




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Science Thursday - August 9, 2012

Posted: August 9, 2012 2:00 pm

Mississippi coroners fail to report overdose deaths, St. Paul’s crime lab is under new leadership, and Missouri arson investigators struggle with new requirements for fire investigations.  Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:

The president of the Mississippi Coroner-Medical examiner Association acknowledged more than half of the state’s county coroners were failing to report overdose deaths.

The sergeant in charge of the troubled St. Paul Police Department crime lab has been reassigned.

While the implementation of new requirements for fire investigations has put arson investigation on a more sound scientific footing, Missouri arson investigators still struggle with walking away from a fire and not being able to scientifically prove arson.

A new report finds that there’s a critical shortage of death investigation experts in the U.S. and cites a “miserably low” national autopsy rate.




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Science Thursday - August 16, 2012

Posted: August 16, 2012 4:20 am

Texas reviews previous arson cases and a prosecutor in New York City launches a cybercrime lab in his office. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:
 
An ongoing Texas arson review has revealed a number of cases where flawed forensic science may have lead to wrongful arson convictions.
 
The Manhattan District Attorney has announced the construction of a cybercrime lab to be housed in the district attorney’s office and staffed by computer forensic staff members, specialized prosecutors, analysts and investigators. The lab is scheduled to be up and running by late 2013.
 
Researchers in China have developed an electrochemiluminesence (ECL) technique to reveal fingerprints on items of evidence. Unlike current techniques of gathering fingerprints, the ECL technique will not affect the integrity of the print.
 
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a new reference standard for ballistics that can help lab technicians verify that their equipment is calibrated and functioning properly, validate their methodology, and demonstrate that their work is traceable to an authoritative national standard.



Tags: Texas, New York, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - August 23, 2012

Posted: August 23, 2012 5:45 pm

An Indiana woman convicted of murder based on arson evidence receives a new trial, a panel of exonerees speak about forensic flaws at a conference in Philadelphia, and laboratory issues in North Carolina and Minnesota affect criminal cases. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:
 
Kristine Bunch, of Indiana, was released from prison and has been granted a new trial after serving 16 years. Her conviction for the murder of her three-year-old son was reversed because the arson evidence critical to her conviction has been discredited.
 
Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld called on the American Chemical Society to help prevent wrongful convictions based on faulty forensics at a recent conference in Philadelphia. He was joined by three exonerees who spent years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit.
 
North Carolina prosecutors dropped a DWI case because a former state crime lab analyst refused to accept a subpoena to testify.
 
Senior officials at the St. Paul Police Department are demanding answers for the drug unit’s failure.



Tags: North Carolina, Indiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - September 13, 2012

Posted: September 13, 2012 12:45 pm

Massachusetts is investigating the work of a drug analyst that might lead to a review of tens of thousands of cases, forensic evidence from the West Memphis 3 trials are reviewed, and coroners in Kentucky push for funding for a medical examiner. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:
 
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick stated that there will be criminal and civil consequences for the "breakdown in oversight" that shuttered a state police crime lab drug unit.
 
Drug evidence from the St. Paul Police Crime Lab continues to be scrutinized. Pre-trial hearings are now focusing on whether the leftover evidence that could be retested might be contaminated.
 
Fibers which were once said to be "similar” to samples retrieved from the homes of two members of the West Memphis Three are now being questioned by three different forensic scientists.
 
A former Missouri medical examiner, who lost his medical license in the state and was fired from another medical examiner position in Florida, is now being investigated for keeping body parts in a storage unit.
 
A group of coroners in Kentucky worked together to save a medical examiner position in their state budget.



Tags: Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - September 20, 2012

Posted: September 20, 2012 2:40 pm

A Massachusetts crime lab scandal intensifies while a North Carolina crime lab sets a new precedent for accreditation. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:
 
Amidst growing allegations of misdeeds at the Massachusetts state crime lab, Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach resigned on Monday. As commissioner, Auerbach admits that he “shares accountability for the breakdown in oversight.”
 
The North Carolina State Crime Laboratory adopts new working standards in order to become the first lab in the United States that holds accreditation from both the American Society of Crime Lab Director Lab Accreditation Board (ASCLD-LAB) and Forensic Quality Services (FSQ).
 
A recent discovery by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate student might affect how crime scene investigators use knowledge of insect behavior to determine the relative time of death. Further research to discern blood spatter from insect activity at a crime scene is being funded by the National Institute of Justice.



Tags: North Carolina, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - September 27, 2012

Posted: September 27, 2012 5:45 pm

Colorado develops a new forensic science research center, crime labs in Texas are overcoming backlog, and experts suggest caution with testimony on fingerprint evidence. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:
 
The St. Paul crime lab in Minnesota, which suspended drug testing in July for lack of protocols, is now under scrutiny for similar issues with its fingerprint analysis. Currently the lab has “no standard operating procedures or formal protocols” that guide how fingerprints are analyzed.
 
To overcome a backlog of forensic evidence at state crime labs, the Texas Department of Public Safety will prioritize the testing of drug and blood-alcohol evidence in felony cases. As a result, crime labs will only analyze drug and blood-alcohol evidence for misdemeanors if a prosecutor requests a lab report.
 
The Colorado Mesa University continues building a new Forensic Investigation Research Station that will house research space, labs and classrooms. The new facility, the fifth of its kind in the country, will conduct original forensic research including decomposition.
 
Various legal and science experts across the country are examining the limits of using fingerprint evidence in court. As studies are only underway to determine how fingerprints vary within populations, experts suggest that testimony should not guarantee accuracy, provide statistics, or comment on print uniqueness as of yet.
 
Though the FBI adopted new Rapid DNA technology that allows DNA field testing, it will be some time before it passes National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards and can be used by public law enforcement. Additionally, the DNA Identification Act of 1994, which only allows accredited labs to test DNA, does not extend to the new technology.



Tags: Colorado, Minnesota, Texas, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - October 4, 2012

Posted: October 4, 2012 4:45 pm





Tags: California, District of Columbia, New York, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - October 11, 2012

Posted: October 11, 2012 4:35 pm





Tags: Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - October 18, 2012

Posted: October 18, 2012 6:00 pm





Tags: Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Ohio, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - October 25, 2012

Posted: October 25, 2012 4:30 pm





Tags: California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - November 22, 2012

Posted: November 22, 2012 7:30 am





Tags: Connecticut, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - November 29, 2012

Posted: November 29, 2012 3:00 pm





Tags: Colorado, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - December 13, 2012

Posted: December 13, 2012 12:15 pm





Tags: Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas, New York, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - December 20, 2012

Posted: December 20, 2012 2:00 pm





Tags: North Carolina, Massachusetts, Michigan, Texas, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - December 27, 2012

Posted: December 27, 2012 3:45 pm





Tags: Colorado, District of Columbia, Virginia, Washington, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - January 3, 2013

Posted: January 3, 2013 1:20 pm





Tags: Alabama, Massachusetts, Washington, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - January 10, 2013

Posted: January 10, 2013 4:30 pm





Tags: Ohio, Texas, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - January 17, 2013

Posted: January 17, 2013 11:30 am





Tags: North Carolina, Iowa, Minnesota, Virginia, New York, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - January 31, 2013

Posted: January 31, 2013 6:25 pm





Tags: District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - February 7, 2013

Posted: February 7, 2013 1:40 pm





Tags: North Carolina, Massachusetts, Texas, New York, Science Thursday

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Science News - February 22, 2013

Posted: February 22, 2013 11:50 am





Tags: Colorado, Illinois, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - February 28, 2013

Posted: February 28, 2013 4:10 pm





Tags: Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas, Vermont, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - March 7, 2013

Posted: March 7, 2013 11:50 am





Tags: District of Columbia, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Science Thursday

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Science News - March 15, 2013

Posted: March 15, 2013 4:35 pm





Tags: Kansas, Massachusetts, Montana, Ohio, Science Thursday

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Science News - March 28, 2013

Posted: March 28, 2013 1:50 pm





Tags: California, Ohio, Texas, Science Thursday

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Science News - April 4, 2013

Posted: April 4, 2013 3:25 pm





Tags: Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia, New York, Science Thursday

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Science News - April 11, 2013

Posted: April 11, 2013 4:05 pm





Tags: Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Texas, Science Thursday

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Science News - April 18, 2013

Posted: April 18, 2013 4:10 pm





Tags: California, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington, Science Thursday

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Science News - April 25, 2013

Posted: April 25, 2013 6:00 pm





Tags: Arizona, New York, Science Thursday

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Science News - May 3, 2013

Posted: May 3, 2013 10:45 am





Tags: California, New Jersey, Missouri, Washington, Science Thursday

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Science News - May 9, 2013

Posted: May 9, 2013 3:10 pm





Tags: Colorado, Minnesota, Virginia, Science Thursday

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Science News - May 16, 2013

Posted: May 16, 2013 4:00 pm





Tags: Massachusetts, Nebraska, Washington, New York, Science Thursday

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Science News - May 23, 2013

Posted: May 23, 2013 3:10 pm





Tags: Minnesota, Ohio, New York, Science Thursday

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Science News - June 20, 2013

Posted: June 20, 2013 4:35 pm





Tags: Colorado, Florida, Mississippi, Washington, Science Thursday

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Science News - June 27, 2013

Posted: June 27, 2013 1:45 pm





Tags: Massachusetts, Virginia, New York, Science Thursday

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Science News - July 11, 2013

Posted: July 11, 2013 3:55 pm





Tags: Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Science Thursday

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Science News - August 1, 2013

Posted: August 1, 2013 5:30 pm





Tags: Texas, Virginia, New York, Science Thursday

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Science News - August 8, 2013

Posted: August 8, 2013 6:00 pm





Tags: Ohio, Texas, Science Thursday

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Science News - August 15, 2013

Posted: August 15, 2013 2:40 pm





Tags: North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio, Science Thursday

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Science News - August 22, 2013

Posted: August 22, 2013 3:05 pm





Tags: Massachusetts, Virginia, Science Thursday

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Science News - August 29, 2013

Posted: August 29, 2013 11:50 am





Tags: Arizona, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Utah, Science Thursday

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Science News - September 6, 2013

Posted: September 6, 2013 10:30 am





Tags: North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, New York, Science Thursday

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Science News - September 12, 2013

Posted: September 12, 2013 5:20 pm





Tags: California, New Mexico, Science Thursday

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Science News: October 3, 2013

Posted: October 3, 2013 11:00 pm





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M-Vac Has Potential to Improve Sample Collection for Small Amounts of DNA When Traditional Methods Fail

Posted: October 17, 2013 5:30 pm





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North Carolina Forensic Advisory Board Discusses Large-Scale Improvements

Posted: October 24, 2013 5:35 pm





Tags: North Carolina, Science Thursday

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Science News - November 14, 2013

Posted: November 14, 2013 3:00 pm





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Science News - November 21, 2013

Posted: November 21, 2013 5:40 pm





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Science News - December 12, 2013

Posted: December 12, 2013 6:00 pm





Tags: Colorado, Science Thursday

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Science Thursday - February 13, 2014

Posted: February 13, 2014 5:10 pm





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Science Thursday [Warning: Requires you to put on your statistician hat] - February 27, 2014

Posted: February 27, 2014 4:00 pm





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