Crime Scenes are Never Contaminated, Right?

I recently had a prosecutor in an arson case state out loud in court, “Your Honor, crime scenes are never ever contaminated by investigators. Not accidentally, and certainly not on purpose.” Where do you start with that sort of statement? Perhaps you start with Fred Zane, Joyce Gilchrist, and others. But most recently is this […]

Should Toxicologists Be Part of the “Prosecution Team”?

Should Toxicologists Be Part of the “Prosecution Team”? At this year’s AAFS meeting, Chuck Hayes of the International Association of the Chiefs of Police gave a thought provoking presentation about the DRE program in the Toxicology Section. I was there in person. It was entitled “Re-examining the ‘Three Legged Stool’ Approach to Deterring Drugged Driving.” […]

Stating the Obvious: There is Prosecution Bias in Most Crime Labs-the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory case study

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory crisis that concerns blood ethanol content by HS-GC-FID teaches us yet again the critical role that bias education plays in a crime laboratory. Everyone has bias. Bias is unavoidable. In fact, in certain contexts it is a good thing. Bias against strangers is what keeps kids from […]

How impossible courtroom testimony comes to be: the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory case study

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory crisis that concerns blood ethanol content by HS-GC-FID teaches us yet again the critical role that education plays in the training of analysts. People in the laboratory are just taught to press buttons and preform tasks. They are not experts. Anyone who has been in a courtroom […]

Quality Assurance failures at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory crisis that concerns blood ethanol content by HS-GC-FID teaches us yet again the critical role that quality assurance (QA) is supposed to play in forensic laboratories. It is part of any quality management system. In all laboratories, the QA officer should be someone who is wholly independent […]

Training in Forensic Science: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

If you have ever seen me lecture before, you know that one of my themes is the need fro greater education and training in the laboratory for analysts. For years, I have been talking about the “oral tradition” method of training that goes on at forensic laboratories wherein the last person to push the button […]

A “Redo” Book! Are you serious?!?!?! More on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory

Forensic scientists make mistakes. At the end of the day, they are human. But in criminal law and forensic science or just plain old science in general, you have to report out and document your errors. Apparently, this major legal lesson and scientific precept was lost on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment […]

Breaking News: Crisis at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

On June 7, 2013, the Attorney General of Colorado in an unprecedented move released the findings of a report into the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and blood ethanol testing. It paints a very grim picture of undereducated, undertrained and unsupervised work. You can read the full report here. Later this week, we […]

Guest Blog by Prof. David A. Harris: Forensic Labs Should Be Separate from Law Enforcement

When the National Academy of Sciences published its landmark report Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward  in February of 2009, most observers quickly saw that it had the potential to shake the forensic science establishment to its core if its recommendations were followed.  Four years on, not enough change has occurred.  […]

“Failed Evidence” – A must read for all interested in making our justice system better

One of the recurring themes of this blog is the consistent call for meaningful changes in the criminal justice system. TheTruthAboutForensicScience.com bloggers Justin McShane and Josh Lee having been highlighting areas of the criminal justice system that desperately need change for several years now. We are not the only ones. In the book “Failed Evidence: […]

National Forensic Science Commission and NIST Guidance Groups

On Wednesday, I attended the American Academy of Forensic Science “Special Session #1: Interdisciplinary Session: A National Forensic Sciences Enterprise and Transparency in Forensic Science: Legal and Practitioner Views on Our Path Forward.” Professor Kennth E Melson gave an update on the national efforts to establish what he terms as a sort of “forensic science […]