Science Thursday: Shoes Prints and Patented Genes


Buffalo scientists investigate shoeprint evidence, a North Carolinian challenges the state’s death penalty due to questionable forensic evidence at state crime lab, and a federal court rules genes can be patented.  Here’s a roundup of this week’s forensics news:

The team of researchers from the University of Buffalo and Canisius College that scientifically debunked bitemark identification

has launched a new project on shoeprints


A North Carolina resident is

suing the state’s Attorney General in federal court

, arguing that it is unconstitutional to sentence people to death while forensics in the state are under evaluation due to faulty tests in the past.

The North Carolina Attorney General reports that the state is making progress on restoring accreditation and stability in its forensic facilities. Two independent audits of the lab’s DNA unit have been completed, and the state awaits the results of an on-site review of the SBI Firearms Unit.

A complete list of the progress updates can be found here


A dispute has arisen

between the Scottish Police Services Authority and defense experts after the government suddenly changed its evidence access policy, which now does not allow the defense to copy files and charges an hourly access fee. A Michigan website

profiles Dr. Werner Spitz

, who has worked on high profile cases like the Casey Anthony murder trial and the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

An audit of the Pinal County (AZ) Sheriff’s Property and Evidence Unit

found problems

including missing evidence, break-ins at evidence facilities and other problems that would affect the integrity of evidence in court proceedings.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that

human genes can be patented

based on the premise that DNA extracted from cells is not a product of nature.

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