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What's New At NCSTL ...

www.ncstl.org is used as a resource in over 170 countries


New online course offered: Locating, Evaluating and Selecting Expert Witnesses


The National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law at Stetson University College of Law and The Law Enforcement Innovation Center (LEIC) at the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Public Service have launched an innovative online course Locating, Evaluating and Selecting Expert Witnesses.

The course has been approved for 3.5 General CLE credits and .5 CLE Ethics credits, 3.5 P.O.S.T. credits for law enforcement professionals and 1 American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) recertification credit. The course uses video clips in addition to lecture and PowerPoint to deliver an engaging type of CLE/CE. The course also demonstrates how the NCSTL database, which has over one million visitors from over 170 countries, may be used for research in scientific evidence.

This online course focuses on:

  • Factors that influence the selection of an expert
  • The importance of investigating an expert's credentials
  • How to make an informed decision of an expert's credibility
  • Legal standards of admissibility of scientific evidence
  • Attorney's ethics in dealing with experts

Register for the course.

NCSTL and LEIC are recipients of the prestigious August Vollmer Excellence in Forensic Science Award for Innovation in Forensic Technology (2010 and 2007 respectively) from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Our two organizations have collectively trained over 43,500 lawyers, judges, law enforcement professionals, and forensic scientists.



Capital Litigation Initiative: Crime Scene to Courtroom Forensics Webinar


Crime Laboratory Essentials: is the second in a series of eight FREE webinars and is part of the Capital Litigation Initiative: Crime Scene to Courtroom Forensics Training. The Crime Lab Essentials webinar, developed in partnership between NCSTL and LEIC, features a tour of the crime lab conducted by forensic scientists that covers five forensic disciplines: latent prints, firearms, forensic biology (DNA), drug identification and toxicology. After describing a mock crime, forensic scientists from the crime laboratory demonstrate a behind-the-scenes, step-by-step look at laboratory analysis and report writing. Watch the video of this webinar from May 25.

Attendees who complete the course will be eligible for free CLE credits. If you have questions, or for further information, contact Stetson’s Office of Professional Education at 727-562-7898 or email ope@law.stetson.edu

SPEND A SEMESTER IN LONDON

Professor Henderson will be teaching a short course on "Scientific Evidence and Expert Testimony: A U.S. and U.K. Comparison."

Course Description: While science and technology are not necessarily different across borders, the way such evidence is used and presented in court may be quite different. This course will compare the admissibility of scientific evidence, the qualification of expert witnesses and the presentation of expert testimony in the United Kingdom and the United States. During the course we will meet with members of the forensic and legal medicine community and have hands-on demonstrations of forensic examinations (Oct 31-Nov 10).

INTERNATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

NCSTL has forged associations with international centers of forensic excellence. Congratulations are due to two of NCSTL’s international colleagues, Professor Sue Black and Professor Claude Roux for their recent outstanding awards.

Professor Sue Black, OBE, FRSE, PhD (University of Aberdeen) and Director of the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee was named to lead the new Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Dundee. The University was granted a £ 10 million award by the Leverhulme Trust to establish a research center aimed at shaping the future of forensic science. Earlier this year, Professor Black and her colleague, Professor Niamh Nic Daeid organized The Royal Society's Meeting, “The Paradigm Shift for UK Forensic Science” and led the working group meeting that followed at Chicheley Hall during which a small group of international judges, scientists, policy makers, and lawyers met to discuss the current scientific landscape, and to identify research gaps and make suggestions for additional research in law and science.

Professor Claude Roux, BSc, PhD (University of Lausanne, Switzerland), Faculty of Science, University of Technology Sydney was awarded the prestigious Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Medal for Research Impact. The award acknowledged the outstanding contributions made by Dr. Roux's research outside the academic community. Examples of Dr. Roux’s accomplishments, among others, are new cutting-edge and validated methods and techniques for the analysis of forensic evidence, in particular in the areas of trace evidence and fingerprint detection and leading the development of a new discipline, forensic intelligence. Dr. Roux’s work has been fundamental to the development of forensic science in Australia over the past 20 years.

What's new in ...

Science: Analysis of Contactless Fingerprint Minutia - NIJ Publications Update Forensics specialist discusses a discipline in crisis. The National Institute of Justice Sensor, Surveillance, and Biometric Technologies Center of Excellence has developed a tool for characterizing contact and contactless fingerprint minutia data. Researchers have used this tool to analyze minutia deviations between probe and gallery datasets, and conducted biometric experiments to investigate the effect of minutia deviations on match performance. The Minutia Deviation Tool (MDT) is a prototype software utility that aids a user in designating equivalent minutia pairs across two fingerprint biometric images and calculating the pair’s minutia spatial deviations. The tool also allows for those mated minutiae to be filtered based on deviation or position criteria to produce Electronic Biometric Transmission Specification (EBTS) files with a subset of minutia markings. U.S. Dept of Justice, 2016.

Technology: Unmanned Drones and Hidden-Grave Detectors: the Future of Forensic Science. Flying unmanned drones to scan crime scenes, portable detectors that sniff out clandestine graves, and the FBI’s billion dollar Next-Gen identification system. These new forensic techniques might seem like something out of a Sci-Fi movie, but their development is currently in the works, and according to new research, might be available to forensics scientists sooner than we think. Forensic Magazine, 2016.

Law: Synthetic Identity Fraud: Can I Borrow your SSN?. Synthetic identity fraud (SIF) is a fraud that involves the creation of a fictitious identity. This paper explains how it works and what the identities are being used for, identifies the industries being impacted and shows who is most commonly targeted and why. Government Technology,2016.

Education and Training
Capital Litigation picture

A new grant in the amount of $400,000 was awarded to Stetson University College of Law for the National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law (NCSTL) to develop a forensic evidence training program for lawyers who work on death penalty cases. “This training program is crucial at a time when life or death often hinges on the presentation of forensic evidence in the courtroom,” said NCSTL Founding Director and Professor of Law Carol Henderson.

The grant, awarded by the U.S. Attorney General as part of the Adjudication and Law Enforcement National Initiatives, will support the development of a “Crime Scene to Courtroom Forensics” program. The new training program will provide in-person and webinar training on forensic science evidence and the use of expert testimony.

“Training in forensic evidence is essential to improve the quality of legal representation and to ensure reliable jury verdicts,” said Henderson. Stetson’s National Clearinghouse was developed to foster communication between the scientific, technological and legal communities, providing comprehensive scientific, technological and legal information to promote justice based on sound science and technology. The NCSTL has trained more than 13,500 legal and scientific professionals since its inception in-person and online. The NCSTL has released the following CLE/CE Programs: SANE-SART Training for Forensic Nurses, A Collaboration Between NCSTL and SANE-SART Resource Services, Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert, sponsored by National Institute of Justice (NIJ), housed on DNA.gov, billed by NIJ as "one of the most popular courses EVER", Forensic Science Course for Capital Litigators - Self-Study which focuses on forensic science. Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert has been a very popular course published on DNA.gov two years ago.

Under grants from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), NCSTL has conducted many training in-person workshops on the use of forensic science in capital cases over the past several years. See Education and Training Section of this website. In 2016, two more in-person workshops will be conducted for prosecutors and defense attorneys - who litigate capital cases.

Information about the in-person training and the webinars as well as the application required to attend the training will be posted here by the end of November, 2015.

What is NCSTL?

NCSTL.org is the only online resource in the world that concentrates on the nexus of science, technology, and the law. Focusing on forensic science and scientific evidence, NCSTL.org educates and shares information with scientists, legal professionals, law enforcement, academics, and the public.

Two handouts - The Database and Everything Else - and a YouTube video Introduction to NCSTL describe the NCSTL.

How we help you

NCSTL.org offers specialized resources for:

Academics: teachers & students
Law Enforcement
Legal Professionals
Scientists/Technologists


NCSTL.org provides:

• A forensic research database
• A newsletter about the latest forensic topics
• A calendar of forensic conferences and seminars
Resource pages on law, expert witnesses, and current forensic topics
• Video/audio lectures presented by experts
• Interactive educational programs
• Dozens of bibliographies



Calendar
Friday Aug 26, 2016

Elder Abuse Computerized Decision Support System
Through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, NIJ has made available the following final technical report (this report is the result of an NIJ-funded project but was not published by the U.S. Department of Justice):

Author: Kendon J. Conrad, Ph.D.

Abstract: Claims of elder mistreatment can often go unsubstantiated. Researchers in this project looked to determine if computer-assisted assessments could improve the handling of these claims while increasing the substantiation rate of elder abuse cases.
The Elder Abuse Decision Support System (EADSS) was designed and developed through previous NIJ-funded grants to facilitate computer-assisted assessment of allegations of abuse, standardize substantiation decision-making, provide user-friendly scoring and reporting, and link care planning to case specifics.

The resulting reports and databases that EADSS generates can be used to monitor and track case work and outcomes more effectively. They also compute agency and system-wide statistics useful in evaluation, planning and research.

The aims of this study were to:
  • Implement and improve EADSS as an investigation and intervention system usable in the field.
  • Determine the efficacy of EADSS for improving individual assessment, reporting, intervention and end-user utility as compared to standard protocols with six agencies in Illinois serving as a test bed.
  • Estimate the psychometric properties of EADSS measures of abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Dr Welner on Lowering American Islamist Violence Risk

Former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett invited Dr. Welner to discuss Dr. Welner’s proposals for mitigating Islamist risk in America onto "Morning in America". Dr. Welner asserted that it was necessary to dismiss a number of oft-repeated false assertions as deliberate manipulations by informed authorities seeking to avoid addressing violence risks and risk factors of potential perpetrators, specifically:

  • Islamist terror is not Islam
  • Adherents to Radical Islamist thinking are very few in number
  • America is responsible for creating intense Muslim hostility towards this country
  • We are not at war with Islam
  • Frank discussion of Islamist terrorism endangers American Muslims
In their extended discussion, Dr. Welner proposed a number of policy prescriptions for mitigating risk. Dr. Welner’s recommendations, which have since been re-published by the Investigative Project for Terrorism and the New English Review, include:
  • Flipping the paradigm to focus on how American Muslims can actively defuse national anxieties of Americans who witness Islamist terrorism, rather than Americans’ alleviating anxieties of attacks on Muslims, which are altogether rare
  • Branding America and how it has helped Muslims around the world
  • Promoting Muslim attitudes reflecting loyalty to America first
  • Encouraging mosque, parental, and family responsibility to self-police communities in order to root out radical nihilists who recruit others and ensnare young people
  • Financially support Muslim institutions’ efforts to root out terrorism from within communities
  • Promote humor and the arts to promote the marginalizing, reform, and self-regulation of Islamist intolerance
  • Retake the campuses from rejectionist Islam, prevent access of radical leadership
  • Retake the prisons from intolerant imams who groom new and alienated adherents and feed angry violent wannabees into the community
  • Ban investment by governments and large donors promoting radical Islam from American media, campaigns, and academic institutions
  • End American backdoor funding and support of countries and entities that collaborate with Islamist terror
  • Expose and root out Islamist contributions to political candidates and to media entities
  • Full security screening of federal employees in sensitive positions who do not currently undergo security clearance
  • End exclusion of Jewish Arabic speakers by American intelligence services, who are available but not relied upon for gathering human intelligence
OSAC

The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) was created in 1985 under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to promote security cooperation between American private sector interests worldwide and the U.S. Department of State. Archived webinars/ presentations from Conference 2015.