StingRay surveillance gets hit in court; Flawed forensics and legal outcomes


Federal judge suppresses evidence collected by warrantless StingRay cell-site simulator device in NY drug case. In his decision, U.S. District Judge William Pauley wrote: “Absent a search warrant, the Government may not turn a citizen’s cell phone into a tracking device.” (Reuters)

The FBI has collected over 430,000 iris scans to populate its biometric database using state/local law enforcement pilot programs: “The result amounts to a new national biometric database that stretches the traditional boundaries of a pilot program, while staying just outside the reach of privacy mandates often required for such data-gathering projects.” (The Verge)

As job-related fingerprint checks have gone up 700% in the past decade, employers, workers and civil rights advocates worry about the nearly 50% error rate in the FBI’s fingerprint check system—including disclosure of sealed or dismissed criminal convictions that have led to termination and employment discrimination (Arkansas Online)

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court orders new trial for defendant in Shaken Baby Syndrome case who was convicted of assault and battery in 2007. Chief Justice Ralph Gants wrote in the court’s opinion that, “…the absence of expert testimony that the child’s injuries might have been caused by her accidental falls deprived the defendant of an available, substantial ground of defense, and thereby created a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice.” (Boston Herald)
Related: MA-ACLU Amicus Brief, ABC News

NJ Court of Appeals overturns 2013 arson conviction, rules “positive alerts” from “accelerant detecting K-9” should not have been allowed into evidence during trial because they were not reliable scientific evidence (

Canadian Office of the Independent Police Review issues report stating DNA collection of 100 migrant workers by Ontario police to solve 2013 sex assault “was not motivated by racial prejudice.” Independent Police Review Director Gerry McNeilly noted, “The scope of the canvass ‘could reasonably be expected to affect the workers’ sense of vulnerability, lack of security and fairness,’ and could have sent the wrong message to the community about how they should be treated. More focus should have been on recognizing the workers’ vulnerabilities and privacy rights.” (London Free Press)

Canada’s Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research—a publically funded research agency responsible for scientific fraud oversight—has refused to give the public any details concerning the 78 scientists found to have falsified data, misused publically funded research grants, and plagiarized scientific data citing of federal privacy laws (Toronto Star)

Illinois school implements fingerprint scanner payment system for school lunches; “But civil liberty groups have warned the new technological system could threaten students’ privacy at a time when some companies in the private sector deal with lawsuits concerning the use of biometrics…” (Chicago Tribune)

New study shows Americans would like tougher sanctions for scientific research fraud, with more than 90% of respondents stating scientists found to be falsifying data should be fired and banned from government funding; over 65% of respondents believed science fraud should be considered a criminal offense (Chemistry World)

A supervising investigator at the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s office has been demoted to working in animal services after conducting “unauthorized postmortem procedures” without a medical license (Ventura County Star)

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
This entry was posted in AAFS, ABFO, criminal justice reform, CSI, DNA profiling and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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