Excellent “DNA Newsletter” on forensics, prosecutions, junk experts, and more

Forensics in the News

A republish from the NY Legal Aid Society’s  “DNA Newsletter” @CeliaGivens


6th Circuit US Court of Appeals rules in US v. Carpenter that the government did not violate defendants’ Fourth Amendment rights by collecting cell site records from robbery suspects without warrants. Regarding the court’s opinion, one spokesperson for the ACLU stated: “The majority’s opinion unfortunately fails to adequately account for the privacy violations made possible by the cell phones that we all need to carry around to live our lives normally…Comprehensive location tracking like this requires robust Fourth Amendment protections.” (ABA Journal)

NY state senate proposes legislation allowing law enforcement to use “textalyzer” devices on drivers suspected of using their phones before automobile accidents to determine if they were “unlawfully driving while distracted.” The new legislation would require individuals to hand over their phones to be searched or face driver’s license suspension—and driving with a suspension due to failure to submit to the “textalyzer” will be a new misdemeanor. The legislation has already passed the state assembly and state senate (Ars Technica)
Related: Cellebrite reportedly assisting FBI in unlocking iPhones from FBI/Apple privacy feud

A Bronx judge has issued an opinion holding that defendant Steven Byrd was not denied his right to a speedy trial after being “charged for his role in a 1998 murder 15 years after it was committed due to a faulty DNA profile match.” The NYC OCME made a transcription error when it uploaded the crime scene sample to CODIS in 2000, causing a decade-long delay in finding a suspect profile match (New York Law Journal)

Shortage of pathologists in United States heading towards national crisis; medical examiner’s offices reporting flawed investigations, delayed results and examinations, and in some cases, loss of accreditation and/or funding (Daily Breeze)

A new study shows FBI’s CODIS database may contain ancestry information, potential phenotyping data, contradicting the established view that CODIS markers provide no information indicative of race or ethnicity (Forensic Magazine)

Federal circuit rules “junk DNA” technology lacks patent eligibility (National Law Review)
Related: Genetic Technologies Ltd. v. Merial LLC Opinion

A legal article concludes that Kuwaiti law mandating all citizens and foreign residents to register their DNA with the government violates the Kuwaiti constitution. The Kuwaiti government has stated that failure to comply with the mass DNA collection would result in large fines, prison time and suspended issuance of passports (Kuwait Times)
Related: Digital Trends

Annie Dookhan, the former forensic analyst who pleaded guilty to evidence tampering in 2013 in more than 40,000 cases, has been released from prison on parole (Boston Globe)
Related: DNA Newsletter, Boston.com

Scientists use “synthetic biology” to experiment with genome editing (GenEng News)

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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