Jurisprudence Section News – April 2016


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.

Sources: Stephanie Domitrovich, JD, PhD, Section Chair, and Pamela A.W. King, JD, Section Secretary

We had another successful AAFS Annual Meeting, which was held this year in Las Vegas. The Jurisprudence Section Program Chair, Lauri Traub, and Section Program Co-Chair, Ted Vosk, provided us with presenters lecturing on valuable scientific evidence topic areas consistent with the AAFS theme, Transformation: Embracing Change. These presentations were well attended by members of Jurisprudence and other sections of the Academy. We are also proud to have had a joint session with the Engineering Sciences Section entitled, The Judge as Gatekeeper. Peter Alexander from Engineering Sciences and Stephanie Domitrovich from Jurisprudence organized the various speakers, which included Peter Barnett, Joseph Maltese, Don Shelton, Michael Saks, Andrew Sulner, and others who discussed issues relevant to judicial gatekeeping.

In keeping with President John Gerns’ next year’s meeting theme, Our Future Reflects Our Past: The Evolution of Forensic Science, we are looking forward to our programming in New Orleans. Ted Vosk and Christine Haskell are our 2016-17 Section Program Chair and Section Program Co-Chair, respectively. We know they will put together an outstanding program filled with science and law abstracts, presentations, and posters. As always, August 1 is our deadline for submissions. Please consider how you can contribute to our 2017 program in New Orleans. In particular, please also consider joining with your colleagues on a workshop proposal. Workshops generate income for our section.

We are also proud to announce that our own Jurisprudence Section Fellow Betty Layne DesPortes was elected President-Elect for the AAFS. Congratulations, Betty Layne!

Our Jurisprudence Section Luncheon was also a success. Our luncheon speaker was Henry Swofford, Chief Latent Print Branch of the Defense Forensic Center in Atlanta, GA. He explained a novel method for quantifying the weight of fingerprint evidence developed and currently undergoing validation by the United States Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory. He discussed the difficulties with supporting claims of single source attribution (e.g.,“individualization”) and introduced us to an alternative framework implemented within the Department of Defense. We learned how this method was developed, the results of the preliminary evaluation data against mated and non-mated fingerprints obtained from a database of several million fingerprints, and their on-going validation efforts to facilitate the transition of this technology into practice.

Carol Henderson, AAFS Past President and Jurisprudence Fellow, is currently in Japan and recently met with Dean Kai of Waseda University Law School. She also indicates that on March 1, the National Clearinghouse of Science, Technology and the Law (NCSTL) at Stetson University College of Law held its first of eight webinars for the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) grant project, Capital Litigation Initiative: Crime Scene to Courtroom Forensics Training. The title of the webinar is Crime Scene Essentials and will be archived for viewing. NCSTL had more than 200 registrants from across the United States. Our members can log on to ncstl.org for information concerning how to view the webinar and other NCSTL educational programs. The Crime Scene Essentials webinar is free, as are many of the other NCSTL courses.

Several of our members are planning to attend and present at the International Academy of Legal Medicine (IALM) Intersocietal Symposium in Venice, Italy, being held June 21-24. Its theme is the present and future evolution of Bio-Medicolegal Sciences in the Post-Genomic Framework of Personalized Medicine, in terms of Innovation, Unitariness, and Evidence. This symposium seeks to articulate this theme in the various subjects of: forensic pathology and anthropology on the dead person; clinical legal and forensic medicine on the living person, from interpersonal violence to personal injury and damage, malpractice, and personal identification; and the medicolegal laboratory, such as anthropology, entomology, genetics, molecular pathology, and toxicology. Stay tuned for more details from the attendees and presenters in the near future!

Jurisprudence Section Fellow Rod Kennedy reports that the New Mexico Court of Appeals took their show on the road, as they commonly do, this time to a Native American high school for the Laguna and Acoma Pueblos in Western New Mexico. Judge Roderick Kennedy (pictured below on the left with the distinguished white beard at the judges’ table) participated as the students watched an actual criminal case being argued before the assembled students. The court announced its decision and had a spirited discussion with the students about the law, becoming lawyers, and court systems in federal, state, and tribal jurisdictions.

Judge Roderick Kennedy sits at the judges table

Judge Roderick Kennedy sits at the judges’ table for a Native American high school for the Laguna and Acoma Pueblos in Western New Mexico.