Jurisprudence March 2015 News Update

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Academy News are those of the identified authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Academy.

Source: Christine Funk, JD, Section Chair

Another successful Academy meeting has come to a close. The theme for the 2015 meeting, Celebrating the Forensic Science Family, was truly honored by the programming in the Jurisprudence Section. Jurisprudence was fortunate to have representatives from most of the other Academy sections presenting at the 2015 meeting. This year’s Program Chair Don Shelton and Program Co-Chair Lauri Traub were in the difficult position of having to say “no” to a significant number of submissions for presentations in the Jurisprudence Section. The papers that were accepted were well attended both by members of Jurisprudence and other sections of the Academy.

In last year’s April newsletter, I wrote, “We seem to be on a path where we are ready and willing to engage in open discourse about our disciplines, including our strengths and our weaknesses.” This year’s Plenary Session, organized and moderated by Immediate Past Section Chair Andrew Sulner, addressed human factors in forensic science and why forensic scientists should embrace the idea of implementing bias control measures in their casework. The 2015 Plenary Session featured presentations by Jurisprudence Section members Barry Scheck, William Thompson, and Andrew Sulner. We extend special thanks to AAFS President Daniel Martell and Plenary Session Chair Roderick Kennedy for supporting and helping to implement this year’s Plenary Session program, which can be viewed in its entirety on the Academy’s website at www.aafs.org. Spirited discussions were had by prominent members of the Academy. Of significance, it really hasn’t been that long since the mere mention of the topic would have led to a standstill. The open and honest discourse about the potential for bias and how that may influence a case was a welcome change.

This was my tenth Academy meeting. I have observed many changes in that time. I am delighted to see that we continue to move forward with the common goal of quality forensic science. Consistent with what we saw at the extremely well attended Plenary Session, President Weedn has declared next year’s meeting theme Transformation: Embracing Change. I am looking forward to next year’s meeting in Las Vegas. Lauri Traub (Lauri.Traub@pubdef.state.mn.us) and Ted Vosk (tvosk@comcast.net) are program chair and program co-chair, respectively. I know that between the two of them, they will put together a marvelous program filled with science and law, with presentations that will no doubt engender discourse and debate. As always, August 1 is the deadline for submissions. Please consider how you can contribute to the program. In particular, please consider joining with your colleagues on a workshop proposal. Workshops generate income for our section.

Finally, in Academy news, Gil Sapir was appointed to the Policy and Procedure Committee by the Board of Directors. Betty Layne DesPortes, Rod Kennedy, and Ken Melson were appointed to the newly created Ethics Process Review ad hoc Committee by President Victor Weedn. Nicole Kubista was appointed to the Ramsey County District Court bench. Ted Hunt and Pamela King continue to work on the National Forensic Science Commission. Andrew Sulner recently published “Handwriting: Cognitive Bias” in theWiley Encyclopedia of Forensic Science.