News 12.01.11

Science Thursday

Researchers develop a tool to detect photo retouching of images, digital forensic experts challenge law enforcement’s handling of digital evidence in criminal cases, and a California man receives a new trial based on arson investigation. Here’s a roundup of this week’s forensics news:

Digital forensic experts from Dartmouth University have

developed a new tool

that is able to detect the level of retouching that went in to creating an image.

Norwich University in Vermont was selected by the U.S. Department of Defense Cybercrime Center as a pilot university for a

Center of Digital Forensic Academic Excellence

program.

Digital forensic experts criticize the flawed procedures used in

obtaining digital evidence

.  Not only is there confusion in terms of what smartphone and tablet data can be captured and analyzed, but data collection is often invasive, changing the original piece of evidence.

A Texas forensic anthropologist

solves cold cases

using anthropology and forensic DNA.

A California man serving a life sentence for setting a fire that killed a mother and her two children has won a new trial based on

new evidence regarding the faulty or outdated arson investigation

techniques at his original trial.

Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Dr. Daniel Kahneman’s work demonstrates that decision-making is often based on

biased, invalid, short-term considerations

. (2) An opinion piece in the Kennebec Journal explores how this has played out in

the criminal justice system

.

A UK court is examining a method of

analyzing mixed DNA samples

using a new software program that has not been admitted as evidence in a UK or Irish court, and that has only been admitted on a few occasions in the United States.

This December, the Supreme Court will hear a new case on a defendant’s right to

confront forensic analysts

who performed testing in his case.

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