USADA presents at the ACS National Meeting about Doping in Sports

 

On March 23, 2015, Attorneys Justin J. McShane of The McShane Firm, LLC and Josh D. Lee of Ward, Lee and Coats moderated a symposium at the national American Chemical Society meeting in Denver, Colorado. The symposium concerned the chemistry and the law involved in Doping in Sports. Officials from the United States Anti-Doping Administration were present. The presentation was made within the Chemistry and the Law Division of the American Chemical Society.

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Attorney Josh D. Lee introduces the speakers at the USADA Anti-Doping Symposium at the ACS National meeting

 

Biographical Sketches of the Presenters

  • Rich Young is the Managing Partner of the Bryan Cave LLP office in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Over the last 20 years, he has participated as a prosecutor, defense counsel, arbitrator or adviser in hundreds of sport doping cases involving most of the Olympic sports. Mr. Young served as the principal draftsman of the World Anti-Doping Code and Code amendments, and has presented the Code at numerous international conferences on doping in sport. He has also assisted in drafting anti-doping rules for numerous International Federations, National Federations, National Olympic Committees and National Anti-Doping Organizations. Mr. Young serves as a legal advisor to the United States Anti-Doping Agency, the Australian Sports AntiDoping Authority, the PGA Tour, lronman, the NBA and other professional sports, as well as several International Federations. Mr. Young is a member of the ad hoc World Anti-Doping Agency Legal Committee and the Pan American Sports Organization Medical Commission. He has also been an arbitrator for the International Court of Arbitration for Sport, and served on its ad hoc panels for the Sydney and Nagano Olympic Games.
  • Dr. Larry Bowers is the Chief Science Officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. From 1992- 2000, Dr. Bowers was the Laboratory Director of the International Olympic Committee-accredited laboratory at Indiana University. Prior to his tenure at IU, he was a Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota for 17 years. He has published over 100 scientific articles and chapters on chromatography, mass spectrometry, steroid and peptide analysis, and anti-doping policy. He has received a number of awards, including the American Association for Clinical Chemistry Young Investigator award and the Franklin and Marshall College Distinguished Career award. In 2000, he joined the US Anti-Doping Agency as its third employee and has been responsible for developing most of its scientific policies and procedures over the last 15 years. Dr. Bowers has had the opportunity over the past decade to participate in many of the major milestones in anti-doping. He was the principal author of the WADA International Standard for Laboratories and many of its attendant Technical Documents in 2002. He participated in the BALCO legal action and has served as an expert witness in numerous legal cases over the last 20 years including the Barry Bonds trial. He also serves as the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Partnership for Clean Competition (PCC), a research-funding consortium of major U.S. sports organizations.
  • Bill Bock became General Counsel for USADA in September, 2007. Prior to becoming General Counsel Bill had served USADA as outside counsel for seven years. As USADA’s General Counsel, Bill has principal responsibility for the prosecution of U.S. athletes and coaches charged with doping offenses, investigations and other legal matters pertaining to USADA. In 2010 Bill became deeply involved in USADA’s investigation into doping in cycling and in the proceedings involving Lance Armstrong and team officials and doctors from the United States Postal Service (USPS) cycling team. Bill was named as a lawyer of the year in 2012 by Colorado Law Week and in 2013 was designated as a Distinguished Barrister by the Indiana Lawyer. He was selected as a 2014 honoree for the NASBA Center for Public Trust’s Being a Difference Award and was named a 2015 Super Lawyer in the State of Indiana.

 

Presentation Overviews

Dr. Bowers presented first. He presented a short historical overview of doping and anti-doping evolution over the period from 1900 to 2000 that lead to the formation of the World AntiDoping Agency (WADA) and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). He briefly summarized the governance of international Olympic sport.

Mr. Young discussed the evolution of doping practices by athletes and the anti-doping rules and methods that have been put in place to detect and sanction dopers. This discussion included the World Anti-Doping Code and its supporting International Standards developed by the World Anti-Doping Agency. He also discussed the shift to out-of-competition testing and specialized laboratory analytical techniques designed to catch up to or hopefully stay ahead of the evolving practices of dopers trying to beat the system.

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Attorney Rich Young gives examples of successful USADA prosecutions including information and evidence form the BALCO scandal.

 

Dr. Bowers again presented. Deterrence is the primary goal of anti-doping. The decision to follow the rules is primarily determined by an individual’s moral inhibitions. When moral inhibitions are weak, the certainty of being caught is the most important factor in compliance with the rules. The ability of testing to detect prohibited substances and methods plays a major role in the certainty of being caught. Several examples of advances in detection of anabolic steroids were presented, including the chemistry underlying the discovery of long-lived metabolites and the detection of designer steroids.

Bill Bock presented on his role as general counsel for USADA and the investigations that he has been part of. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is the congressionally authorized, independent anti-doping agency for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Sport in the United States and conducts drug testing and drug investigations for America’s elite and Olympic athletes. With particular focus on the USADA investigation into doping by Lance Armstrong and his teammates on the U.S. Postal Service Cycling team as well as the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) investigation, which involved unlawful conduct by athletes including Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, and Tim Montgomery, USADA’s General Counsel, Bill Bock, discussed how USADA conducts investigations regarding the use of performance enhancing drugs in sport, promoting a level playing field in sport in the United States.

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Attorney Bill Bock explains a key piece of the evidence in the BALCO scandal that showed the doping schedule and the “Rosetta Stone” to decode the drug use by all. This comes from Olympic sprinter Kelli White whose various victories on the international stage were changed into disqualifications based upon doping

 

Dr. Eichner was called away on official WADA duties. So Dr. Bowers presented his slides and information. The World Anti-Doping Agency has the primary responsibility to harmonize anti-doping practice in international sport. The World Anti-Doping Code and the attendant International Standards, Technical Documents, and Guidelines form the framework of that harmonization. The List of Prohibited Substances and Methods and the International Standard for Laboratories are critical to harmonization. WADA recognizes laboratories to conduct doping control analysis for Olympic sports under agreements with national/SO accrediting organizations to assess under ISO 17025. Testing strategies and practice have evolved over the years. WADA-accredited laboratories have moved from reactionary, to be more proactive in the fight against doping. Anticipating potential doping agents progressing through clinical trials and scientific research are paramount in staying ahead of doping athletes. Focusing on “indirect” methods of detection offer the laboratories a way to detect endogenous hormones and other performance-enhancing practices that are not possible to detect directly. There are also numerous rogue companies that exploit the FDA’s “research use only” classification of drugs to target athletes.

At the end of the session, there was a lively Q&A where the audience got to directly ask about Lance Armstrong, Carl Lewis and others. The issue about the anti-doping culture (or lack thereof) in other countries was discussed in terms of policy. The panelists were frank and forthright with their comments. It was a great event.

Attorney Justin J. McShane moderates the panel discussion

Attorney Justin J. McShane moderates the panel discussion

 

In a dramatic turn of events as covered here in Federal Judge resigns from National Commission on Forensic Science and The Jed Rakoff and Matt Redle, co-chairs, Subcommittee on Reporting and Testimony Memo, US Senior District Judge Jed Rakoff resigned in protest from the National Commission on Forensic Science over the DOJ veto wielded by James Cole (DAG) to promptly end all discussion on the broken discovery system in America when it comes to criminal law and in forensic science.

DAG James Cole

Today, after the DOJ re-evaluated its position and announced that it would no longer veto talks on discovery in the National Commission on Forensic Science, Judge Rakoff has rejoined the commission. It is sad to see the tremendous amount of power that the DOJ has over this discussion. Even though DOJ ultimately withdrew its objection, it makes many wonder about how truly transparent, open and balanced any discussions are. If it takes the resignation of a federal judge to have DOJ listen what hope does another commissioner have?

Judge Rakoff returns to forensic panel after Justice Department backs off decision

January 30 at 11:58 AM

A federal judge Friday returned to a presidential commission on forensic science after the U.S. Justice Department reversed a decision to bar the panel from discussing changes that would give criminal defendants more information about forensic evidence before their trials, a federal official said.

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the Southern District of New York had resigned in protest Wednesday from the Obama administration panel, accusing the department of placing “strategic advantage [for prosecutors] over a search for the truth.”

However, Acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates invited Rakoff to return, saying she had not been aware the commission had worked openly on its plans for nearly a year.

Yates told the National Commission on Forensic Science that “it seemed only fair” that it “make its determination as to what information should be provided to the Attorney General.”

“This is obviously a critically important issue to the Department,” Yates said. “We take very seriously our obligation to ensure that defendants receive a fair trial.”

A Justice Department official said the initial decision that pretrial evidence discovery rules were beyond the commission’s scope was made by Yates’s predecessor, James Cole, before his departure Jan. 8. The official, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, added that Yates may not agree with the panel’s suggestions.

Rakoff, the commission’s only federal judge, thanked Yates and said he looks forward to a discussion “on the merits.”

Prosecutors routinely share evidence with defense lawyers, but Rakoff and other commissioners propose that criminal defendants be allowed the same access before trial to government forensic evidence as defendants in federal civil court cases.

In an e-mail to colleagues, Rakoff wrote that it is only through disclosure of scientific results and methods “that forensic science can be meaningfully scrutinized in any specific case” and that “trial by ambush” can be avoided.

The panel began work last year in response to growing criticism by scientists and many legal experts about the quality of forensic evidence used in criminal cases. Citing lab scandals and exonerations, critics have said that police and prosecutors exercise too much control over crime labs, which suffer from weak standards over research, testimony and examinations.

The commission is preparing recommendations for Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. or his nominated successor, Loretta Lynch.

 

Policy_Recommendation

Breaking news

I just received a copy of the joint memorandum that was co-authored by the Honorable Jed S. Rakoff and Matt Redle, co-chairs, Subcommittee on Reporting and Testimony that was forwarded to Brette Steele, ‎Senior Advisor on Forensic Science and Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General.

What strikes me on my first reading is who the authors are. Far from the Ivory Tower types, the authors are people that should be listened to and their perspective strongly considered.

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff

Honorable Jed S. Rakoff is a sitting senior status Judge for the Southern District of New York.  According to Wikipedia page that features his background, the Judge spent seven years as a federal prosecutor with the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. For the last two of those years, he was Chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Prosecutions Unit. He then returned to private practice where he was a partner first with Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, Alexander & Ferdon, and then with Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. He headed both firms’ criminal defense and civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) sections. So, in this author we have experience and a perspective that should be listen to by all.

DA Matt Redle

Matt Redle is the elected County and Prosecuting Attorney for Sheridan County since 1987 is District Attorney in Sheridan, Wyoming. Prior to his election he was a Deputy County and Prosecuting Attorney for 6 years in that office. He is a member of the Wyoming Supreme Court, Permanent Rules Advisory Committee, Criminal Division. He was the Vice President of the National District Attorneys’ Association, having been a member of the board since 2000. He has been a member of the National District Attorneys Association DNA Legal Assistance Advisory Group since 1995. Mr. Redle was the National District Attorneys Association liaison to the ABA Criminal Justice Standards Committee. He was co-chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section’s Legislative and Policy Committee. He is a past president of the Wyoming County and Prosecuting Attorneys Association. Certainly, this is someone who has front-line experience in state court.

You should read the memorandum: You can download and read it here: November 6, 2014 memorandum to Brette Steele, DAG; from Jed Rakoff and Matt Redle, co-chairs, Subcommittee on Reporting and Testimony

Key quotes from the joint memorandum:

  • At the October meeting of the National Commission on Forensic Science, the Subcommittee on Reporting and Testimony presented a draft report on discovery that, reduced to essentials, recommends that the Attorney General direct his prosecutors to require that forensic science experts testifying on behalf of the Government make considerably fuller disclosure of their data, methodology, experience, and results than is presently disclosed.
  • Indeed, from the standpoint of improving forensic science and making its application to criminal prosecutions more accurate (which were key reasons for the very creation of the Commission), discovery is probably the most important area of intersection between forensic science and the courtroom, because it is only through adequate discovery that forensic science can be meaningfully scrutinized in any specific case.

And just what is so offensive in the idea that trial by ambush does not promote justice? What is in the National Commission on Forensic Science, the Subcommittee on Reporting and Testimony Pretrial Discovery in Forensic Evidence Cases-Policy Recommendations that is too radical for DOJ to handle? Looking at the members of the subcommittee and the work product at the end of the process is instructive.

members1

members2

From the work product:

1. Pretrial disclosure of forensic evidence should be comprehensive and reciprocal — subject to the U.S. Constitution and the law of privilege. The prosecution’s disclosure obligation should apply whether or not the information will be used at trial. The defense obligation should apply to evidence that is intended for use at trial, including the opinions of testifying experts who have not performed any testing.
2. The results of all forensic examinations and all expert opinions should be recorded; oral reports should be reduced to writing. The results of examinations and expert opinions should be recorded at the time the examination is conducted or an opinion is formed — or promptly thereafter.
3. The results of all forensic examinations, expert opinions, and related case documents (e.g., bench notes, graphs, electropherograms, calibration reports, etc.) should be subject to disclosure.
4. An expert witness’s qualifications should be subject to disclosure, including a list of publications authored and a list of recent cases in which the witness testified as an expert at trial.
5. Disclosure should be timely, although all items need not be disclosed at the same time:
a. Disclosure of initial laboratory reports should occur as soon as practicable after completion of the examination so that counsel has sufficient time to consult with an expert — which may require applying for funds to retain an expert — and to permit retesting.
b. Disclosure of all other items should occur as requested and no later than 90 days before the scheduled trial date.
6. There should be a continuing duty to disclose throughout the trial until sentencing. For exculpatory evidence, the duty to disclose should apply after sentencing.4
7. Information, such as laboratory testing protocols, quality assurance procedures, accreditation and audit reports, proficiency testing results, and internal validation studies, should be readily accessible — preferably by posting on the internet or electronically upon request.
8.Forensic evidence should be preserved both before and after trial — until appeals are exhausted and sentences served. Jurisdictions should promulgate procedures concerning the preservation and retention of evidence. Evidence should not be unnecessarily consumed during testing, and consumptive testing should not be done without notice to the defense if a defendant has been charged.
9. The defense has the right to inspect and retest forensic evidence that is under the custody or control of the prosecution. The prosecution has the right to inspect and retest forensic evidence that is under the custody or control of the defense and that the defense intends to use at trial.

Who in their right mind can object to any of this?

 
U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff

The sole federal judge appointed to the NIST/DOJ  National Commission on Forensic Science has resigned in protest, according to his reported email, over what he feels is inappropriate attempt by the Department of Justice to restrict the scope of the Commission. In the resignation, Judge Rakoff makes very apt observations that highlight the defect in the discovery process in criminal law when it comes to forensic science and contrasts that with what happens in civil practice. This is a very important point.  Obviously, this is a very strong signal that there may be something quite amiss with the NIST led effort. With such a strong and seemingly insurmountable veto power placed in the DOJ’s hands, many fear that the DOJ will use NIST and the Commission in an effort to benefit prosecutors. What is worse is that the otherwise pristine and great scientific reputation of NIST will be used to give the veneer of science over what in reality is DOJ’s advocacy. This is the fear that many had when it was announced that DOJ would take such a prominent role in the NIST OSAC structure.

We have obtained the text of his resignation. It sure doesn’t paint a very good picture of the efforts to date. I know several of the Commissioners on the Commission. Sadly, several (not all of them) have commented to me prior to this email these very sentiments as captured below in the Judge’s resignation:

 

Dear Fellow Commissioners:

Last evening, January 27, 2015, I was telephonically informed that the Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice has decided that the subject of pre-trial forensic discovery — i.e., the extent to which information regarding forensic science experts and their data, opinions, methodologies, etc., should be disclosed before they testify in court — is beyond the “scope” of the Commission’s business and therefore cannot properly be the subject of Commission reports or discussions in any respect. Because I believe that this unilateral decision is a major mistake that is likely to significantly erode the effectiveness of the Commission — and because I believe it reflects a determination by the Department of Justice to place strategic advantage over a search for the truth — I have decided to resign from the Commission, effective immediately. I have never before felt the need to resign from any of the many committees on which I have served over the years; but given what I believe is the unsupportable position now taken by the Department of Justice, I feel I have no choice.

This issue first arose last October when the Subcommittee on Reporting and Testimony, which I have the honor to co-chair along with Wyoming prosecutor Matt Redle, presented to the full Commission for discussion a draft report, authored by Prof. Paul Giannelli, recommending, in essence, that federal prosecutors go beyond what is presently required by federal criminal rules and make available in cases in which they intend to call forensic experts the same particularized information that forensic experts are required to provide in federal civil cases. The Commission then debated the draft report on the merits, and many helpful suggestions were offered, reflecting the broad composition of the Commission and its ability, unlike judicial rule-making bodies or the like, to ascertain what makes sense in the specialized area of forensic science. However, the Department’s co-chair of the Commission, having expressed his view that the entire discussion was beyond the Commission’s scope, then determined that the issue, not of the merits but of whether such discovery matters could even be considered by the Commission, would be put to the Deputy Attorney General for decision. Matt Redle and I then requested the opportunity to submit a memorandum stating our views; this was permitted (a copy is here attached), and, as I understand, was attached as one of several appendices to a memorandum taking the opposite view that was submitted to the Deputy Attorney General in late November but never shared with Matt, me, our Subcommittee, or the Commission. After a substantial delay, the Deputy Attorney General adopted the view that any discussion of discovery changes was entirely outside the Commission’s purview, and this decision, without further explanation, was telephonically conveyed to me last night.

The notion that pre-trial discovery of information pertaining to forensic expert witnesses is beyond the scope of the Commission seems to me clearly contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the Commission’s Charter. That Charter specifies six duties that the Commission is commanded to fulfill. The third of these duties is “To develop proposed guidance concerning the intersection of forensic science and the courtroom.” A primary way in which forensic science interacts with the courtroom is through discovery, for if an adversary does not know in advance sufficient information about the forensic expert and the methodological and evidentiary bases for that expert’s opinions, the testimony of the expert is nothing more than trial by ambush. Indeed, from the standpoint of improving forensic science and making its application to criminal prosecutions more accurate (which were key reasons for the very creation of the Commission), discovery is probably the most important area of intersection between forensic science and the courtroom, because it is only through adequate discovery that forensic science can be meaningfully scrutinized in any specific case. The notion that improved discovery, going beyond what is minimally required by the federal rules of criminal procedure (which were drafted without any consideration of the difficulties unique to forensic science) , is somehow outside the scope of the Commission’s work thus runs counter to both the mandate of the Commission’s Charter and the Commission’s overall purpose.

One might add that it seems unlikely that the Commission, at its very first meeting, would have created a Subcommittee on “Reporting and Testimony” if it were not concerned with how information about a forensic expert’s opinions was reported in advance of his testifying, i.e., discovery. And the written instruction that was sent by the Department of Justice’s liaison to the Subcommittee expressly stated that the Subcommittee should consider, inter alia, “legal issues inherent in reporting and testimony, such as discovery.”

As the federal rules of criminal procedure now stand, prosecutors who intend to call forensic experts to testify do not have to supply the same full pre-trial discovery about those experts and the methodological and evidentiary bases for their opinions that parties calling forensic experts in civil cases are required to supply under federal rules of civil procedure. But none of these rules focuses on the unique problems presented by forensic science, where there is much greater variance in standards, credentials, testing, and the like than in other scientific disciplines. That is why this Commission, which has such a broad range of participants in the field, is so well suited to consider whether, under the circumstances, greater pre-trial discovery, even though not required, should be embraced by the Department of Justice, both as a matter of fairness and also to help insure the determination of the truth. Does the Department have to be reminded of the many cases of grossly inaccurate forensic testimony that led to the creation of the Commission?

It is hard to escape the conclusion, therefore, that the Department’s determination that pre-trial discovery relating to forensic expert testimony is beyond the “scope” of the Commission is chiefly designed to preserve a courtroom advantage by avoiding even the possibility that Commission discussion might expose it as unfair. Prior to this decision, I have felt privileged to have been part of the Commission, not least because of the many wonderful fellow Commissioners with whom I have had a chance to work. I have also felt that, as the sole federal judge on the Commission, I could perhaps provide a useful perspective. But I cannot be a party to this maneuver by the Department to cabin the Commission’s inquiries, and I therefore must resign in protest.

Jed S. Rakoff

 

Here is an article that provides comments by DOJ and others:

 

U.S. judge quits commission to protest Justice Department forensic science policy

January 29 at 12:02 PM
The sole federal judge on a commission appointed by President Obama to improve forensic science in the criminal justice system has resigned in protest, criticizing the U.S. Department of Justice for muzzling its work to benefit prosecutors.U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff of New York said he quit because the Justice Department had barred it from recommending an expansion of the exchange of pre-trial information to include more evidence from forensic experts. Prosecutors routinely share evidence with defense lawyers. Rakoff said in his resignation letter that the ban contradicts the panel’s charter and voids months of work.The proposed change would address a major criticism of the nation’s top scientific organization and many legal experts, who have warned in recent years that police and prosecutors exercise too much control over crime labs, which suffer from weak standards over research, testimony and examinations. The failings that have led to dozens of lab scandals and hundreds of exonerations over the past two decades.“Because I believe that this unilateral decision is a major mistake that is likely to significantly erode the effectiveness of the Commission — and because I believe it reflects a determination by the Department of Justice to place strategic advantage over a search for the truth — I have decided to resign from the Commission, effective immediately,” Rakoff wrote in an e-mail late Wednesday to fellow commissioners that spread rapidly in legal circles overnight.

“It is hard to escape the conclusion [that the decision] is chiefly designed to preserve a courtroom advantage by avoiding even the possibility that Commission discussion might expose it as unfair,” Rakoff added.

Rakoff’s email came on the eve of the commission’s Thursday meeting, where the evidence discovery proposal was to be discussed. Rakoff wrote that the decision was made by Sally Q. Yates, the department’s acting deputy attorney general since James Cole’s departure Jan. 8, after objections by the commission’s co-chair, Nelson Santos, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Office of Forensic Sciences.

Santos did not respond to a request for comment.

In a statement, Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said, “While the department is disappointed in Judge Rakoff’s decision, this was a basic disagreement about the scope of the commission’s work.”

A department official said its experts found that many of the commission’s proposals were covered by existing rules and guidelines, and encouraged the panel to keep working on evidence retention policies and transparency.

Nevertheless, Rakoff’s departure poses a blow to the credibility of the Obama administration’s effort, announced nearly two years ago, to commit scientists and a new presidentially appointed panel to address recurring concerns about the quality of forensic evidence used in criminal courts across the country.

Rakoff, a 1995 Clinton judicial nominee, made headlines in 2010 and 2011 when he criticized the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s treatment of banks involved in the financial crises as too lenient. He has also been an influential voice from the bench for science, helping revise the 2011 edition of the federal judiciary’s reference manual on scientific evidence and serving on the board of the MacArthur Foundation’s Law & Neuroscience Project.

After meeting for more than a year, the forensic commission has prepared draft recommendations for Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., or his nominated successor, Loretta Lynch, to improve evidence discovery and expert testimony, training, and certification practices. It also reorganized the scientific governing organizations for individual forensic techniques.

The commission’s efforts to improve research, training and standards will likely take years and new resources to bear fruit, however, while participants said Rakoff’s subcommittee on reporting and testimony could immediately help judges and juries make clearer sense of questioned forensic techniques.

Rakoff noted that the commission’s charter explicitly calls for it to develop proposals concerning “the intersection of forensic science and the courtroom.”

“The notion that pre-trial discovery of information pertaining to forensic expert witnesses is beyond the scope of the Commission seems to me clearly contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the Commission’s Charter.” he wrote.

Matthew F. Redle, chief prosecutor for Sheridan County, Wyoming, and co-chair of Rakoff’s subcommittee, said the proposal appeared to have majority support, but Rakoff held it for more discussion to build greater consensus.

“I respect and admire Judge Rakoff a great deal. His letter can speak for itself,” Redle said.

Spencer S. Hsu is an investigative reporter, two-time Pulitzer finalist and national Emmy award nominee.