Jurisprudence Section News – July 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 Pam King, JD, Section Secretary

Jurisprudence Section members have been very busy around the country participating in training others in the forensic science community on a variety of topics, as well as contributing to the evolution of forensic science in which we are all involved. Following are highlights:

Carol Henderson, Past Section Chair and Past President of the AAFS, worked at developing a webinar entitled “Crime Lab Essentials,” held on May 25. Stetson University and the University of Tennessee partnered to offer this free webinar training on forensics. This partnership exists between Stetson University College of Law’s National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law and the Law Enforcement Innovation Center at the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Public Service. This webinar was the second free webinar in the “Capital Litigation Initiative: Crime Scene to Courtroom Forensics Training” series and was funded by the United States Department of Justice. The panelists conducted an inside view of the state-of-the-art Metro Nashville Police Department Crime Laboratory, covering five forensic disciplines: latent prints, firearms, forensic biology (DNA), drug identification, and toxicology. After describing a mock crime, the forensic scientist panelists from the crime laboratory demonstrated a behind-the-scenes, step-by-step look at laboratory analysis and report writing. The webinar panelists included a number of AAFS Jurisprudence Section members and past and present section office holders, including Director of Stetson’s National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law, Professor Carol Henderson and Attorney Christine Funk. Ann Talbot, Director of the Metro Nashville Police Department Crime Laboratory and Associate Member in the Criminalistics Section, also participated as a panelist. The “Crime Lab Essentials” webinar training discussed quality assurance, laboratory errors, chain of custody, and evidence security. This webinar is part of an eight-part series that educates lawyers regarding using forensic science in death penalty cases, from evaluating the crime scene to defending or prosecuting death penalty cases in court.

Section Program Chair Ted Vosk organized and was on the faculty of a three-day course held in April for the Bexar County Criminal District Attorney’s Office on the subject of Forensic Metrology and its use in the courtroom. Ted also participated in the debate on the Fourth Amendment implications of a warrantless breath test as part of an amicus team that prepared and filed a brief in the case of Birchfield v. North Dakota, which was argued before the United States Supreme Court this past April.

On May 20, Donald Shelton gave the keynote address, entitled “The CSI Effect: Perception and Reality,” to the Federal Bar Association Utah Chapter at their Annual Criminal Law Seminar in Salt Lake City, UT.

Judge Shelton has also developed and initiated a program at the University of Michigan-Dearborn to re-educate law enforcement personnel. This program is titled “Alternatives to Violent Force” and is composed of a series of seven, three-hour workshops, including: Reimagining the Use of Force Continuum; How the Law Interprets Use of Force: Introduction to the Critical Decision-Making Model; De-escalation as a First Alternative: Distance, Cover, Time; Arab American Culture and Religion; African American Culture; Profiling in Terry Stops and Assisting Mentally Ill Persons; and Sanctity of Life and the Policing Experience.

Stephanie Domitrovich and David Waxse have been reappointed as Chair and Co-Chair, respectively, of the Forensic Science Committee of the American Bar Association’s Judicial Division. They recently held a telephone conference call with their members to explore ideas for judicial education projects.

Many other members of the section have also been involved in similar work with the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) and the National Commission on Forensic Science (NCFS) as well as a multitude of other initiatives. All of this hard work has the potential to generate a fantastic program in the Jurisprudence Section for the annual meeting in New Orleans. To that end, your chair and secretary ask you to reflect on your talents and experience and consider whether you have a topic of note to share in a presentation at the Academy’s annual meeting in New Orleans next February. Our Jurisprudence Section welcomes presentations from all sections of the Academy. Section Program Chair Ted Vosk (tvosk@comcast.net) and Co-Chair Christine Haskell (dromio821@aol.com) are available should you have any questions. We need workshop proposals, too! The deadline for abstracts and workshop proposals is August 1 – no extensions are given.