News 06.14.13

Science News

A Colorado toxicology lab is accused of bias, a Minnesota judge rules evidence from the St. Paul crime lab can be retested, and  forensic kinesiologists, who give opinions about the way that injuries occur, are on the rise in Canada.  Here is the round up of news for the week:
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Colorado toxicology lab is under scrutiny by defense lawyers

after a report was recently made public that outlines alleged bias from a supervisor who favored the prosecution and a failed to adequately train lab employees.  State officials argue that the problems are limited to the actions of the supervisor rather than affecting the entire crime lab.
A Minnesota judge decided that test results on drug evidence analyzed by a St. Paul crime lab accused of lacking protocols

can be admitted into court as long as the evidence is retested at a different lab

.  Public defenders had argued that the samples could have been contaminated and any retesting would be unreliable.
In Canada, scientists specializing in forensic kinesiology – an explanation of body movements and injuries – are

becoming medical experts and testifying at criminal trials

. Practitioners argue that kinesiology is a reliable science that should be admissible in court.  As expert witnesses, kinesiologists can explain how certain injuries occur and help determine if they were inflicted or accidental.
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former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) explains how DNA testing can identify errors

in flawed forensic methods.  Currently, the FBI is remediating problems with hair analysis and offering DNA testing to ensure there were no wrongful convictions.
A retired DNA testing trainer at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City argues that the Forensic Statistical Tool (FST), a program that produces probabilities for the origins of a DNA sample,

is not scientifically accurate.

 The trainer explains how the FST does not account for unique circumstances and forces analysts to make a lot of assumptions, which is not the job of a scientist.
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