Reports and Publications
by John Louis Larsen and Daniel K. Harris, The Champion (NACDL) 28-35 (October 2011). A guide for defense attorneys for assessing whether law enforcement followed standardized evidence processing and collection guidelines, as per those promulgated by the FBI and DOJ.
Developed by the National Forensic Science Technology Center and is available for free download.
U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice. A guide designed to accompany the general crime scene guide. Provides step-by-step procedures for each phase of crime scene investigation. Provides more specific procedures than the general guide does for some topics.
U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice. A best-practices guide for death scene investigators produced by the National Medicolegal Review Panel, an independent multidisciplinary group of both international and national organizations whose constituents are responsible for investigating death.
by John Louis Larsen, 8 Evidence Tech. Mag. 14-17 (July-August 2010). Provides protocols for documenting a bullet-hole entry and for event reconstruction.
2013 NIST handbook offers guidance for individuals involved in the collection, examination, tracking, packaging, storing and disposition of biological evidence
U.S. Department of Justice, FBI Laboratory Division. Provides guidance and procedures for methods of collecting, preserving, packaging, and shipping evidence and describes the forensic examinations performed by the FBI’s Laboratory Division and Operational Technology Division.
From the Blog
- Paul Bieber (Director at Arson Research Project: http://thearsonproject.org/research/) explores the misidentification of an accidental fire as an act of arson and how unreliable, quasi-scientific techniques led to the mistaken execution of an innocent man. On June 30th, join the UNC School of Government and the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services for the seventh …
- New Research on “Touch” DNA, 1/6/2016As the sensitivity of DNA analysis increases, scientists are able to develop profiles from ever-smaller samples of DNA. This has lead to testing of a wider array of samples collected from crime scenes, including window panes, bullets, hats and other clothing, cigarette butts, and many other items. Attorneys sometimes ask me about the likelihood of …
- FRONTLINE: The Real CSI, 4/5/2012Mark your calendars: on April 17, 2012, FRONTLINE reports on serious flaws in forensic practices and inconsistencies in how forensic evidence is presented in the courtroom. The program will be broadcast on PBS stations and online. FRONTLINE investigates reliability of fingerprint analysis, ballistics, and bite mark analysis and evaluates the standards that govern these practices. …
- Crime Scene Investigation – New Website, 1/12/2012As a follow-up to my post from earlier this week on crime scene investigation, I have created a website with articles and publications that describe best practices for physical evidence recognition, evidence preservation and collection, and crime scene documentation. I have posted standards and guidelines for crime scene investigation and other crime scene resources on …
- Crime scene forensics: How does it work?, 1/10/2012BBC News has posted a series of videos explaining how forensic tests are performed in crime labs on their Crime scene forensics: How does it work website. These short videos demonstrate various techniques including fingerprint comparisons, use of ninhydrin and superglue fuming (cyanoacrylate) to locate latent print evidence, firearm and projectile comparisons, and examination of …
NACDL is offering a 2-day CLE in Palm Beach, FL that will explore building and using a police database, working with law enforcement experts, what Brady means in modern 2020, and the intersection between technology and misconduct including the ways law enforcement employs body cameras and facial recognition technology. The program includes specific skills-based lectures that will teach effective trial and motions techniques.
The Forensic Center of Excellence will present a free webinar by Jeremy Morris on how bloodstain pattern analysis is communicated through written reports and courtroom testimony. Principles of communication science will be discussed and explained to develop the audience’s ability to transfer meaning through writing and verbal testimony.
Communication is the act of sending and receiving information and ideas from one entity to another. In bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA), this involves the transferal of ideas regarding pattern classification and reconstructive meaning from the mind of the analyst to the minds of others; the same information that may be used investigators, prosecutors, or triers of fact.
Bloodstain analysts communicate through written reports or verbal testimony. Although various recommendations have been made by the BPA and legal communities regarding the content and wording of bloodstain conclusions, these recommendations are often based upon transparency and logical accuracy using technical jargon.
Communication science research has demonstrated this transfer of ideas is not a simple process. Often, the accuracy of transferring these ideas is impeded by a variety of factors. Utilizing theory and case examples, this webinar will briefly review one theory of communication, why the transfer of meaning may be inaccurate, and how the bloodstain analyst can incorporate these concepts into written reports and testimony.
Detailed Learning Objectives:
Understand the transmission model of communication
Explain the error in assuming your target audience understands the meaning of phrases and jargon.
Elaborate on central and peripheral route processing in persuasion
The Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE) invites researchers, collaborators, and members of the broader forensics and statistics communities to participate in the September Center Wide Webinar on Tuesday, September 24th from 1-2 pm EST. There will be a short introduction from CSAFE center staff followed by the presentation “Feature-based analysis of bloodstain patterns” by Dr. Hal Stern, CSAFE Co-Director. Dr. Stern is a Professor of Statistics and the Vice Provost for Academic Planning at the University of California, Irvine.
Presentation Description: A key task in the analysis of bloodstain pattern analysis is to identify the mechanism by which the stains were created. Examples include impact, gunshot, castoff, and expiration. This webinar will introduce how images of bloodstain patterns can be represented via ellipses and using algorithms to assist with characterizing complex stains. Features defined from characteristics of the ellipses appear to have potential in distinguishing bloodstain patterns created by different mechanisms.
NCAJ Webinar on crime scene investigation and serology evidence by Marilyn Miller.
This complimentary forensic science webinar is presented by Toby L. Wolson, retired criminalist and supervisor in the Forensic Biology Section of the Miami-Dade Police Department Forensic Services Bureau. The recorded webinar is available for on-demand viewing.
This webinar will focus on:
- Overview of bloodstain pattern analysis and the science behind the discipline
- Expert training and credentials
- Legal concerns and what attorneys should know about bloodstain pattern experts.
- Current temperature of the field, including recent media coverage
- Available OSAC resources
The webinar is part of the complimentary webinar series, Crime Scene to Courtroom Forensics Training. This project was supported by Grant No. 2015-CP-BX-K006 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
The National Forensic Science Technology Center created this website to explain in simplified terms the principles of each type of forensic analysis and how the analysis is performed. Topics include DNA, digital evidence, fingerprints, firearms, trace evidence, blood stains, and more.
Over 500 video clips were made of blood spatter experiments that are typically performed by individuals attending a basic bloodstain pattern analysis course. The videos were made possible through a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) grant and are available to be viewed or downloaded. The principal investigators were Terry Laber, Bart Epstein, and Dr. Michael Taylor.
BBC News has posted a series of narrated images that describe various crime scene investigation techniques and laboratory tests.
Felony death by vehicle case where the trooper accident reconstruction expert who analyzed the accident could not reach a conclusive expert opinion about who was driving. An officer provided lay opinion testimony based on the same information. The court concluded: “the facts about the accident and measurements available were simply not sufficient to support an expert opinion — as Trooper Souther testified — and lay opinion testimony on this issue is not admissible under Rule 701.” The court found the error was prejudicial and ordered a new trial.
A School of Government blog post on this case is available here.
Motions and Briefs
Federal court order granting relief in the George Goode case. The Court found that “the State, through Agent Deaver, presented misleading evidence about the testing done on petitioner’s boots being conclusive for the presence of blood.” See p. 25-26.
Suit against five former agents with the State Bureau of Investigation, filed on June 28, 2011
2012 Supplement to MAR that addresses implications of false and misleading testimony by former SBI Agent Duane Deaver.
MAR in Michael Peterson case based on newly discovered evidence regarding Duane Deaver and the SBI
- Order – Judge Orlando Hudson’s May 9, 2012 order granting the motion for appropriate relief, vacating the conviction and granting a new trial.
- A copy of the written exhibits from Dec. 2011 hearing, including an index of exhibits can be requested from Sarah Rackley Olson.
- Motion for Relief from Judgment The basis of this Rule 60(b) motion drafted by Diane Savage is misconduct by the SBI Lab.
- AG’s Response to Petitioner’s Rule 60(b)Motion for Relief
- Reply to Respondent’s Memorandum Opposing Motion for Relief
Crime Scene Investigation in the News
- OSAC Adds 25th Standard to the Registry, NIST, 12/19/2019
- Convicted Darien killer claims false Henry Lee testimony sent him to prison, by Tara O'Neill, Stamford Advocate, 7/11/2019
- Judge Orders New Hearing in 1994 Murder, by Bobby Burns, Reflector, 6/12/2019
- 10 Years Later, Independence Should Be the Future of Forensics, by Jonathan Griner, Forensic Magazine, 6/6/2019
- Law enforcement fears NC’s effort to boost hemp industry could essentially legalize marijuana, by Laura Leslie, WRAL, 5/30/2019
- FBI Scientists Studying Wet Vacuum for DNA on Select Surfaces, by Seth Augenstein, Forensic Magazine, 5/16/2019
- Houston CSI Who Used Own Alternate Light Source Missed Evidence, Was Terminated (TX), by Seth Augenstein, Forensic Magazine, 10/27/2018
- Houston crime lab fires investigator after alleged testing policy violation, by Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, 10/26/2018