Forensic Database

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Top Forensic News Story

What's New At NCSTL ... 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. CE credits for law enforcement professionals and forensic science board certifying specialties are pending. The course uses an engaging type of CLE/CE which uses video clips in addition to lecture and PowerPoint. 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.

The Course Leader, Professor Carol Henderson, is the founding director of the NCSTL and a Professor of Law at Stetson. Recognized as an international authority on forensic science and law, Professor Henderson has presented more than 280 lectures and workshops worldwide on scientific evidence and courtroom testimony. She has more than sixty-five publications on law and forensic science. Professor Henderson served as the president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (2008-2009) and presently co-chairs the Life & Physical Sciences Division of the ABA's Science & Technology Law Section.

What's new in ...

Science: Ancestral background can be determined by fingerprints. It is possible to identify an individual's ancestral background based on his or her fingerprint characteristics, new research shows -- a discovery with significant applications for law enforcement and anthropological research. Science Daily, 2015.

Technology: Global Forensic Technologies Market 2015-2019. Forensic technology is an important part of criminal investigations and is used for the analysis, identification, and evaluation of physical evidence gathered from a crime scene. Law enforcement agencies and the legal sector are the major end-users of this technology as it is helpful for them to solve cases. The increased acceptance of technology, especially DNA testing technology, has contributed to the growth of the global forensics technologies market. PR Newswire, 2015.

Law: Writing A Search Warrant Application for a Mobile Device Search warrants for mobile devices are in the news again. This time, the issue isn’t whether a warrant is needed; it’s how specific the warrant needs to be. Last June, Riley v. California, 573 U.S. ___ (2014) required police to demonstrate probable cause for search incident to arrest by showing where and how they believe a mobile device contains evidence of a crime. This month, the court in United States v. Winn, __ F.Supp.3d __, 2015 WL 553286 (S.D.Ill. February 09, 2015) took Riley one step further by focusing on particularity: the need for police to specify what evidence they are looking for within a subject’s mobile device., 2015

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 n-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, 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 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? 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, 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 offers specialized resources for:

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

Wednesday Dec 02, 2015

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for thousands of other forensic audio-video casts.

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. OSAC conference website 2015. OSAC archived webinars/ presentations.

NIJ Final Technical Reports have been made available by NIJ through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service:

General Responsivity and Evidence-Based Treatment: Individual and Program Predictors of Treatment Outcomes During Adolescent Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment
Author: Liana R. Taylor

Abstract: A recent study found that about 7 percent of youth between the ages of 12 and 17 have a substance use disorder. But drug and alcohol abuse is even higher among juvenile offenders. It’s estimated that up to 67 percent of juvenile detainees meet the criteria for a substance use disorder.

Juvenile justice program planning has emphasized the ways to reduce substance use and the odds that youth will stay involved in the justice system. These efforts have led to the incorporation of general community-based substance abuse treatment programs and the development of court-based treatment programs.

The author explored the gaps regarding the application of the Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) model to juvenile substance abuse treatment programs by examining adherence to the general responsivity principle and evidence-based treatment intervention (EBT) in adolescent outpatient programs (AOP) and juvenile drug treatment courts. While the RNR model was developed to guide correctional programs in reducing recidivism, up to this point it has been applied primarily to adult programming. The findings support the potential use of the RNR model and EBT classification in AOPs and juvenile drug treatment courts. In addition, the report demonstrates the need for further specification and research on the responsivity principle, as well as the need for more rigorous classification of treatment interventions as “evidence-based.”

Identifying and Communicating Genetic Determinants of Facial Features: Practical Considerations in Forensic Molecular Photofitting
Author: Mark Shriver
Abstract: Human facial diversity is substantial, complex, and largely scientifically unexplained. The author measured face shape in population samples with mixed West African and European ancestry from the United States, Brazil, and Cape Verde. Using bootstrapped response-based imputation modeling (BRIM), the author uncovered the relationships between facial variation and the effects of sex, genomic ancestry, and a set of craniofacial candidate genes that show signatures of accelerated evolution. The facial effects of these variables were summarized as response-based imputed predictor (RIP) variables, which were validated using self-reported information. Results on a set of 20 genes showing significant effects on facial features provide support for this approach as a novel means to identify genes affecting normal-range facial features and for approximating the appearance of a face from genetic markers.

These tools can aid psychological research on the role of face shape in perceiving, categorizing, and remembering faces and in studying other specific phenomena. The author’s methods also allow investigations of how facial features are associated with variables such as age, body size, drug use history, and possibly even sexual orientation, attractiveness, dominance, and temperament. In addition, they allow the estimation of ancestry from 3D images rather than from DNA tests. Most directly, the author’s methods provide a means of identifying the genes that affect facial shape and for modeling the effects of these genes to generate a predicted face. Although much more work is needed before it is known how many genes are required to estimate the shape of a face and more populations need to be studied before the results can be generalized, this report results provides both the impetus and analytical framework for those future studies.

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