News 12.23.10

Science Thursday: Forensics and Anthropology

This week, anthropologists around the world make news, the UK shuts down its public-private forensic science service while Canada considers creating one,  Canada creates an oversight entity as a result of wrongful convictions resulting from faulty death investigations and crime labs across the country continue to draw unwanted attention. Here’s a roundup of forensic news:

Anthropologists using DNA

have uncovered the remains

of Neanderthal victims of cannibalism in a cave in northern Spain.

The American Anthropological Association stirred controversy by

removing the word “science”

from its long-term mission statement.

The future of forensic science research in the U.K. is bleak as the government

plans to sell off its privatized national forensic science service

.

The Canadian government is

considering whether it will switch

to a public-private partnership to replace the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s troubled forensic laboratories and services.

Oklahoma suffers

another setback

in its search for a chief medical examiner as its current candidate was convicted of criminal ethics violations while serving as a medical examiner in another state.

In response to wrongful convictions, Ontario created a Death Investigation Oversight Council to review complaints regarding death investigations.

http://www.canadaviews.ca/2010/12/16/more-oversight-of-coroners-and-forensic-pathologists

Alabama State University will

begin offering

a bachelor’s degree in forensic chemistry and a master’s degree in forensic science. Nassau County (NY) prosecutors have begun

giving copies of a report

that shows failings by the police department crime lab to defense attorneys in every case in which lab evidence was used.

A News-Record editorial urges swift reform of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab

to ensure citizens receive fair trials

.

Despite the fact that fingerprint testimony was misrepresented at trial and the prosecution’s case hinged on the testimony of a jail informant and an eyewitness who has since recanted his testimony, the US District Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

upheld a conviction

against a Tennessee man for a 1994 murder.


Documents

critical of a misleading DNA lab report produced by a SF Crime Lab analyst that was used in the prosecution of  two defendants who were ultimately acquitted were released by the SF Weekly.  The District Attorney and Police Chief

said they were not aware of the report

.

In real life, toxicology investigations

take weeks, not hours

.

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