2014-10-17 FALP XII(1)

Congratulations to the graduates of the 12th class of the American Chemical Society Hands-on Gas Chromatography class. This makes for 210 graduates in 40 states.

 

Today’s graduates include:

First name Last Name State
Tim Bussey CO
Gregory Willis GA
Thomas Addair KS
John Thurston KS
Barton Morris MI
Neil Rockind MI
Steven Hernandez NJ
Jeff Meadows OH
Alan Woodland OK
John Arose PA
Rich Roberts PA
TC Tanski PA
Leslie Johnson TX
Mark Kelley TX
Jessica Phipps TX
Courtney Stamper TX
Michael Cohen WI
Nathan Dineen WI
Sarah Schmeiser WI
 

NIST names OSAC Resource Committees

As many regular readers will recall, NIST is trying to end the Wild Wild West that is the modern practice of Forensic Science. Just moments ago, they released their latest appointees:

An initiative to strengthen and bring uniformity to forensic science standards took another step forward today as the National Institute of Standards and Technology appointed 35 new members to the Organization for Scientific Area Committees (OSAC).

The new members, selected for their expertise in law, psychology and quality assurance, will serve on three advisory committees. These OSAC Resource Committees will play a critical support role by advising the Forensic Science Standards Board, the scientific area committees and subcommittees focused on specific forensic science disciplines within OSAC as they adopt, develop and review standards.

“As our science-focused committees and subcommittees work to support the development of forensic science standards and guidelines, we expect that there will be many questions related to law, work flow processes and quality control. These resource committees will help address those,” said John Paul Jones II, associate director for OSAC affairs.

The Human Factors Committee will provide guidance on how systems design influences human performance, on how to minimize cognitive and confirmation bias, and on how to mitigate errors in complex tasks.

The Legal Resource Committee will review and provide a legal perspective on proposed standards.

The Quality Infrastructure Committee will assemble and update a Forensic Science Code of Practice, provide guidance on quality issues, and provide impact statements that inform agency management about how specific standards may affect laboratory operations. It will also work with outside standards development organizations and accrediting bodies as needed.

The resource committee members were chosen from among 1,300 OSAC applicants. They include public defenders, law school professors, prosecutors, judges, standards development experts, laboratory managers and human factors experts.

A NIST-DOJ membership selection team is reviewing applications for the remaining OSAC positions and will announce the appointments as they are completed.

To see the membership of each resource committee, please go to www.nist.gov/forensics/osac/resource-coms.cfm.

 

Human Factors Committee Members

  • Deborah A. Boehm-Davis, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, George Mason University
  • Itiel Dror, Ph.D., Principal Researcher, Cognitive Consultants International
  • Cleotilde Gonzalez, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor of Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Christian A. Meissner, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Iowa State University
  • Erin Morris, Ph.D., Behavioral Sciences Research Analyst, Los Angeles County Public Defender
  • Sunita Sah, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Strategy, Economics, Ethics and Public Policy at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business
  • Scott Shappell, Ph.D., Human Factors and Systems Department Chair, Emory-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Dan Simon, Professor of Law and Psychology, University of Southern California, Gould School of Law, and Department of Psychology
  • Brian C. Stanton, cognitive scientist, National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • William C. Thompson, Ph.D., Professor of Criminology, Law, and Society and Psychology and Social Behavior and Law, University of California Irvine

Legal Resource Committee Members

  • Jennifer Friedman, Deputy Public Defender, Los Angeles County
  • Christine Funk, General Counsel, Department of Forensic Sciences, Washington, D.C. (local government)
  • Lynn Robitaille Garcia, General Counsel, Texas Forensic Science Commission (state government)
  • Ted R. Hunt, Chief Trial Attorney and DNA Cold Case Project Director, Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, Kansas City, MO
  • John Kacavas, United States Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice
  • David H. Kaye, Professor, Graduate Faculty, Forensic Science Program, Pennsylvania State University
  • David A. Moran, Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School
  • Christopher J. Plourd, Superior Court Judge, State of California
  • Ronald S. Reinstein, Judge and Judicial Consultant, Arizona Supreme Court
  • Barry Scheck, Professor, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University; Co-Director, Innocence Project; Commissioner, NY Commission on Forensic Science; Neufeld, Scheck, & Brustin, LLC

Quality Infrastructure Committee Members

  • Karin Athanas, Program Manager, American Association For Laboratory Accreditation
  • Sally S. Aiken, Medical Examiner, Spokane County, Washington
  • Barbara E. Andree, Forensic Chemist, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
  • Jason Bond, Quality Assurance Coordinator, Indiana State Police Laboratory Division
  • Pamela L. Bordner, Sr. Accreditation Program Manager, ASCLD/LAB
  • Kris Cano, Forensic Laboratory Manager, Scottsdale Police Department Crime Laboratory
  • Deborah Friedman, Criminalist III, Broward Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory
  • Matthew Gamette, Laboratory Improvement and Quality Manager, Idaho State Police Forensic Services
  • Keith Greenaway, Vice President, ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board
  • Arlene Hall, Commander, Illinois State Police, Division of Forensic Services
  • Bruce Houlihan, Director, Orange County Crime Laboratory/Orange County Sheriff-Coroner
  • Alice R. Isenberg, Ph.D., Section Chief, FBI Laboratory
  • Timothy Kupferschmid, Laboratory Director, New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner
  • Karen Reczek, Senior Standards Information Specialist, NIST Standards Coordination Office
  • Frances E. Schrotter, Sr. Vice President and Chief Operation Officer, American National Standards Institute
 

Delaware State Police (“DSP”) and the Delaware Department of Justice (“DDOJ”) initiated an investigation of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (“OCME”) Controlled Substances Unit (“OCME-CSU” or “CSU”).

According to this news story, there were lots of problems found.

New details have emerged in an evidence scandal that occurred within in the Delaware Medical Examiner’s office.

A new report from Attorney General Beau Biden’s office revealed numerous “systemic operational failings” within the Chief Medical Examiner’s Controlled Substance Unit. These failings allegedly led to missing or altered drug evidence in 46 cases.

An audit discovered at least 51 pieces of potentially compromised evidence. The missing evidence includes marijuana, Oxycontin, heroin and cocaine.

The preliminary investigation, conducted by the Department of Justice and Delaware State Police, demonstrated the absence of management, oversight and security within the lab. Detailing lax security procedures, employees were described in the report as propping the drug vault door open and turning off the security alarm system.

“Employees recall having observed the door to the drug vault propped open numerous times over the years,” stated the report. “When the DSP secured the drug vault on February 20, 2014, a well-worn, wooden chock was observed in the area adjacent to the door. Based on witness interviews, investigators believe this was used to hold the door open.”

At times, drug evidence was not handled, stored or tested according to protocol, according to the investigation. Records were mismanaged and evidence was removed without being properly logged out. Additionally, the report stated that some employees lacked the training or experience needed to perform some of the tasks to which they were assigned.

The investigation has lead to the arrest of two lab employees, Forensic Investigator James Woodson and Laboratory Manager Farnam Daneshgar, along with the suspension of Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Richard Callery.

Woodson was indicted on one count each of trafficking cocaine, theft of a controlled substance, official misconduct, and tampering with evidence.

Daneshgar was indicted on two counts of falsifying business records. According to the report, witnesses accused Daneshgar of “dry labbing,” which is the “practice of declaring a result without performing the analytical testing to produce the result.”

Overhaul Planned

The report was released as Delaware lawmakers prepare to vote on a bill that would abolish the chief medical examiner’s office and create the Division of Forensic Science. A director would oversee the division, which would be housed under the Department of Safety and Homeland Security rather than the Department of Health and Social Services.

The division would be responsible for overseeing the chief medical examiner’s office and would be responsible for working with the courts and law enforcement, investigating deaths, participating on the Criminal Justice Council and providing fatal incident reviews to the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council.

“Delaware must have its own independent, state-of-the-art crime laboratory,” said Biden in a statement. “A new crime lab is the right thing for Delaware’s criminal justice system and the right thing for taxpayers.”

The legislation is being considered in the state Senate.

 

 

In case you have been living under a rock, you have heard of the NIST OSAC movement to try to reform and standardize the practice of forensic science.

You can read about the effort here:

 

NIST Names Members to First Forensic Science Standards Board

For Immediate Release: June 26, 2014

As part of its efforts to improve the scientific basis of forensic evidence used in courts of law, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have made the first appointments to a new organization dedicated to identifying and fostering development and adoption of standards and guidelines for the nation’s forensic science community.

cartridge case mark
Forensic firearms and toolmarks: Members of the new Forensic Science Standards Board will coordinate development of consensus standards by committees dedicated to various forensic science disciplines, including firearms and toolmarks. Impressions made on the surface of a cartridge case when a gun is fired can act like fingerprints to identify a specific firearm.
Credit: NIST
View hi-resolution image

NIST and DOJ named 17 academic researchers and forensic science experts to the Forensic Science Standards Board (FSSB), a key component of NIST’s Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC), which is bringing a uniform structure to what was previously an ad hoc system.

“The appointments to the Forensic Science Standards Board essentially mark a transition from planning to doing,” said NIST Acting Director Willie May. “After months of collaboration with the forensic science community, we are bringing to life this new organization that will have a positive impact on the practice of forensic science in the United States.”

The board will oversee three resource committees and five scientific area committees. Subcommittees will focus on specific disciplines, including DNA, toxicology, medico-legal death investigation, facial identification, latent fingerprints and firearms and toolmarks, among others. The subcommittees will propose consensus documentary standards, for adoption by the board, to improve quality and consistency of work in the forensic science community.

The establishment of the OSAC is part of a larger collaboration between NIST and DOJ, which announced the members of a new National Commission on Forensic Science in January 2014. A NIST-DOJ membership selection team is reviewing applications for all remaining positions in the OSAC and will announce the appointments as they are completed.

The new board includes five members who represent the research community, five members who chair the OSAC scientific area committees, six members who represent national forensic science professional organizations, and one ex officio member—Mark Stolorow, director of OSAC affairs for NIST.

The research community representatives are:

  • Joseph Francisco, Ph.D., William E. Moore distinguished professor, Purdue University;
  • Anil Jain, Ph.D., distinguished professor, Michigan State University;
  • Karen Kafadar, Ph.D., statistics professor, Indiana University; Department of Statistics professor and chair, University of Virginia; (after 8/26/2014)
  • Sarah Kerrigan, Ph.D., Forensic Science Department chair, Sam Houston State University; and
  • Douglas Ubelaker, Ph.D., curator, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Division of Physical Anthropology.

Six members were nominated by their professional associations:

  • Andrew Baker, M.D., National Association of Medical Examiners standards committee chair and Hennepin County Medical Examiner, Minn.;
  • Laurel Farrell, Society of Forensic Toxicologists director and past president and American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board instructor;
  • Steven Johnson, International Association for Identification first vice president and Ideal Innovators Inc. certified latent print examiner/facial examiner;
  • Mark Keisler, Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners past president and member-at-large and Indiana State Police Laboratory Forensic Firearms Identification Unit supervisor;
  • Barry Logan, Ph.D., American Academy of Forensic Sciences past president and NMS Labs vice president of Forensic Science Initiatives and chief of Forensic Toxicology; and
  • Jeremy Triplett, American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors advocacy committee chair and Kentucky State Police Forensic Laboratory supervisor.

Five members will chair the OSAC scientific area committees (SAC):

  • Richard Vorder Bruegge – SAC IT/Multimedia; Federal Bureau of Investigation, senior photographic technologist;
  • Gregory Davis, M.D. – SAC Crime Scene/Death Investigation; University of Alabama at Birmingham, professor, division director, and chief coroner/medical examiner;
  • George Herrin Jr., Ph.D. – SAC Biology/DNA; Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Division of Forensic Science deputy director;
  • Austin Hicklin – SAC Physics/Pattern; Noblis, biometrics and forensic science fellow; and
  • Scott Oulton – SAC Chemistry/Instrumental Analysis; Drug Enforcement Administration, associate deputy assistant administrator.

In the future, board appointments will be for three-year terms. These first members will serve terms of two, three, or four years, to ensure continuity.

As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. To learn more about NIST, visit www.nist.gov. To learn more about OSAC, visit www.nist.gov/forensics/osac.cfm.