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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.
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.
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).
SPOTLIGHT ON NCSTL'S ADVISORY COUNSEL
Congratulations to Donna A. Bucella, NCSTL Advisory Council member since 2005. She recently was named president of compliance business for Guidepost Solutions LLC, a global leader in investigations, compliance and security.
Bucella has served in several top government posts. Bucella’s government experience includes serving as the first Director of the Terrorist Screening Center, the Assistant Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency and after 9/11, as the first Southeast Area Director responsible for the operations of 80 federalized airports. Bucella was formerly the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. She also served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Director of the Executive Office for the United States Attorneys.
She has practiced law with Foley & Lardner LLP and Steel, Hector and Davis LLP in the areas of complex business litigation, white collar defense, internal corporate investigations, and compliance. Her private sector experience includes serving as senior vice president at Perot Systems Government Services and as senior vice president at Bank of America.She retired at the rank of Colonel from the U.S. Army Reserves.
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: Lives in Balance, Texas Leads Scrutiny of Bite-Mark Forensics. the Texas commission is seeking to develop guidelines on whether bite-mark comparisons should have any role in the courtroom.
Forensic science more broadly is in turmoil as prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges confront evidence that many long-used methods, like handwriting analysis and microscopic hair comparisons, were based more on tradition than science and do not hold up under scrutiny. Even fingerprint and certain kinds of DNA matches are not quite as certain as many once believed, scientists say. Read more New York Times, 2015.
Technology: Study Reveals Security Gaps That Could Greatly Impact 2016. A recent Trend Micro study revealed that in third quarter 2015, a worst-case security scenario occurred when leaked information from a data breach was used for further attacks, such as blackmail and extortion. In early July, the Italian information technology company, Hacking Team was hacked and more than 400GB of confidential data was made public. The company, which sells tools that legally intercept communications used by governments and law enforcement agencies, had previously said that it does not sell the product to oppressive governmental regimes. The leak, which covered Hacking Team’s business practices, contradicted the company’s official statement, and also included tools provided by the company to carry out attacks, including a number of exploits that targeted Adobe Flash Player and Windows. According to the report, "Hazards Ahead: Current Vulnerabilities Prelude Impending Attacks," "the hack led to the discovery of five major zero-day vulnerabilities, as well as spying tools for iOS and Android." Some of these vulnerabilities were later used in attacks aimed at Japan and Korea or used to compromise Taiwanese and Chinese government websites. Read more. LegalTech News, 2015
Law: In Missouri, Fewer Gun Restrictions and More Gun Killings In the past decade, Missouri has been a natural experiment in what happens when a state relaxes its gun control laws. For decades, it had one of the nation’s strongest measures to keep guns from dangerous people: a requirement that all handgun buyers get a gun permit by undergoing a background check in person at a sheriff’s office. But the legislature repealed that in 2007 and approved a flurry of other changes, including, last year, lowering the legal age to carry a concealed gun to 19. What has followed may help answer a central question of the gun control debate: Does allowing people to more easily obtain guns make society safer or more dangerous?
Research by Daniel Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, found that in the first six years after the state repealed the requirement for comprehensive background checks and purchase permits, the gun homicide rate was 16 percent higher than it was the six years before. During the same period, the national rate declined by 11 percent. After Professor Webster controlled for poverty and other factors that could influence the homicide rate, and took into account homicide rates in other states, the result was slightly higher, rising by 18 percent in Missouri. Read more New York Times, 2015
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.
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.How we help you
Two handouts - The Database and Everything Else - and a YouTube video Introduction to NCSTL describe the NCSTL.
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