News 11.03.11

Science Thursday: Reopening Old Cases

The Texas Forensic Science Commission will review arson convictions, Las Vegas commits funds to retest DNA analyses processed by analysts whose work has come under fire and unreliable breath alcohol tests trigger an investigation of a Texas District Attorney’s Office. Here’s a roundup of this week’s forensics news:

The Texas Forensic Science Commission

recommended

that all cases involving people who were incarcerated for arson crimes be reviewed after acknowledging that unreliable fire science played a role in the conviction of Cameron Todd Willingham. Additionally, the Commission recommended that crime labs have a duty to report when evidence is determined to be invalid or mistaken and have a duty to inform prosecutors and judges.

The Las Vegas Metro Fiscal Affairs Committee

approved

paying up to $700,000 over three years to retest DNA in cases flagged by the Metro Crime Laboratory as they audit testing done by two former analysts.


The Harris County (TX) District Attorney will be called to testify

in a DWI case regarding the reliability of results processed in breath-alcohol testing vehicles. The office is under investigation for prosecuting DWI cases despite the acknowledgement that the questionable reliability of tests generated by mobile breath-testing vehicles. .

A forensic entomologists and forensic archaeologists, whose skills have been applied in investigating acts of genocide,

were part of the team investigating the mass killing of sled dogs in British Columbia

.

Without a formal state system to track deaths,

Tennessee has difficulty recording and analyzing drug death cases

.

A Georgia medical examiner’s office

discusses

how the “CSI effect” has made the public both more trusting and suspicious of forensic evidence, leading to efforts by the office to report evidence more thoroughly.


The United Kingdom defends its highly criticized move

to close its Forensic Science Service and transfer operations to private enterprise.

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