Jurisprudence November 2014 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: Stephanie Domitrovich, JD, PhD, Section Secretary

Section Program Chair Donald Shelton and Co-Chair Lauri Traub are proud to announce that the Jurisprudence Section received eighty-three (83) abstract proposals for presentations for the 67th Annual Scientific Meeting, February 16-21, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Hotel in Orlando, FL. Donald and Lauri found the abstract topics and submissions were excellent and included many areas of immediate concern and interest to the Academy. They are proud that many abstracts came from outstanding leaders world-wide and known in various scientific fields of importance to our legal system. In addition to a poster session on Wednesday in Orlando, our section will feature seven sessions of oral presentations on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. One of the Thursday sessions will focus on the status of the National Commission on Forensic Science and other developments since the NAS Report. Also presenting on Thursday is John Lentini who will review exonerations, developments in fire investigations, medical examiner testimony, and provide tips for attorneys and experts in the court presentation of scientific evidence. Simultaneously on Thursday, the Jurisprudence and Engineering Sciences Sections have combined their efforts by offering an entire afternoon with eight (8) nationally recognized experts discussing the issue of “Error Rates” both in the laboratory and the courtroom. Friday morning will begin with issues regarding questioned document examination and ethics and then will turn to emotionally charged issues such as child abuse and hoarding. Friday afternoon presentations will begin with legal developments in DNA and then focus on controversial trial issues especially important to attorneys, expert witnesses, and judges. Saturday morning will conclude the scientific program with presentations on issues primarily concerning the reliability and admissibility of alcohol and other drug evidence as well as a special session such as IQ testing and the defense of veterans with PTSD. Judge Shelton and Attorney Traub are enthusiastic that the overall result will be an exciting array of important scientific sessions for the entire Academy. Make your reservations now to attend!

Time Out for “Ice Cream” at the 66th Annual Scientific Meeting In Seattle

On Thursday, February 20, a small group of AAFS members was treated to a tour of the University of Washington Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM – pronounced Ice Cream). Leading the tour was the Institute’s Manager, Kristine Vosk. Those attending included former Academy President Thomas Bohan, Judges Donald Shelton and Stephanie Domitrovich as well as several other members from the Jurisprudence and General Sections. The Institute, founded in 2006, conducts fundamental research on stem cells to develop therapies and cures for conditions afflicting people around the world. The science it produces and the 130 faculty researchers making it up are recognized as being amongst the best in the world.

The tour began with brief presentations by a couple of the Institute’s world class scientists. First up was the Institute’s Co-Director and Doctor of Hematology, Tony Blau, MD, who explained the scope of research being performed at the Institute, its potential to alleviate human suffering as well as the science underlying it. Dr. David Mack, Professor of Rehabilitative Medicine, discussed research being done at the Institute to develop a gene therapy for myotubular myopathy, a congenital muscle disease that causes weakness in the muscles used for movement and breathing. Because of the severe and fatal weakness of the breathing muscles, children born with this defect usually only survive into early childhood. Dr. Mack showed a film of dogs being treated at the Institute that had been overcome by this illness to a degree where they could neither walk nor eat. The film ended showing these same dogs playful and prancing within days of being treated with the new gene therapy being developed. After that, we got suited up and headed into the Ellison Stem Cell Core where some of the science actually takes place.

AAFS members and guests tour the University of Washington Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine.

AAFS members and guests tour the University of Washington Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine.

The Core facilitates research using human embryonic stem cells, stores, distributes, and provides access to approved stem cell lines and conducts research into improving induced pluripotent stem cell technology. Here, Core Scientist Chris Cavanaugh showed us a mouse embryo in the blastocyst stage, approximately four to five days after fertilization, on a microinjection microscope. Core Scientist Jennifer Hesson allowed us to examine some stem cells up close under a high magnification. Dr. Lil Pabon spoke to us about the heart regeneration program at the Institute. The culmination of this part pf the tour was being able to view beating heart tissue that had been grown from stem cells in the lab.

Finally, we viewed the Quellos High Throughput Screening Core which specializes in functional genomics as well as drug discovery and small-molecule optimization through chemical screening. Core Director and Principle Scientist Dr. Tim Martins explained how this facility has revolutionized biomedical research by employing laboratory automation enabling the functional interrogation of the entire genome and identification of therapeutic drug candidates in timeframes that were previously impossible. And then we were on our way with the memory of a special and fun learning experience at one of the world’s premiere scientific research institutes. We extend a special thank you to Institute Manager Kristine Vosk for arranging this tour especially for our members.

News From our Members:

Jurisprudence Section Fellow Ted Vosk’s textbook, Forensic Metrology: Scientific Measurement and Inference for Lawyers, Judges, and Criminalists, was released October 3. In August 2014, he presented at the 9th International Conference on Forensic Inference and Statistics located at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Ted was the keynote speaker at the 1st International Conference on Forensic Science and Justice at GC University Lahore in Pakistan, October 21–24. Ted is also the keynote speaker at the 1st Annual International Educational Conference in Orlando, FL, November 12-14, for the International Association of Forensic and Security Metrology.

On April 4, Stephanie Domitrovich presented to the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA) in Budapest, Hungary, at the Biotechnology Law and New Frontiers Seminar, on the topic Modern Legal Trends in the Global Market for Assisted Reproductive Technology as liaison for the American Bar Association’s Science and Technology Section’s Biotechnology Committee.

This past May, both Donald and Stephanie presented in Ann Arbor, MI, at the University of Michigan’s Seminar on Advances in Forensic Medical and Pathology hosted by Jeffrey Jentzen, Director of Autopsy and Forensic Services. Judge Sheldon presented on “Science in the Courtroom.” Judge Domitrovich co-presented with Dr. Jentzen at a workshop entitled “Court Testimony: Tips for Testifying and How to Get the Most Out of Your Expert.”