Forensic in the News – NY Legal Aid Society

Click on the above to read about “pattern-matching’ forensics. Of course bitemarks are #1.

Where’s the commitment to correcting past flawed forensics??
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced new DOJ policies on forensic science this week during a speech at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences’ (AAFS) 70th Annual Scientific Meeting. According to a memo published on the DOJ website, the new policies include standardized language for forensic expert testimony and reports, “Department-wide testimony monitoring practices to ensure testimonial consistency and accountability,” requiring DOJ labs to post their quality management documents and internal validation studies online, and a revival of the Council of Federal Forensic Laboratory Directors.

The Innocence Project has issued as response to the Deputy Attorney General’s remarks, stating: “We’ve known since 2009 that there are problems with the scientific validity of forensic disciplines used to identify suspects with the exception of DNA evidence.  Yet after this administration shut down the National Commission of Forensic Science — the first inclusive and transparent effort to address these fundamental flaws in evidence that is used in countless prosecutions across the nation — there was no mention by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein of how the Department of Justice plans to address this core validity problem.”

Related: Full RemarksMemo on Approval of Uniform Language for Testimony and Reports

Researchers from the National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a statistical method of comparing ballistic samples that could enable experts to use a numeric scale when testifying about the strength of a ballistics match in court. (

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether all drug cases worked on by former state lab analyst Sonja Farak, who was arrested in 2013 for stealing drugs from active casework, should be dismissed. While state prosecutors have already agreed to dismiss nearly 8,000 cases that Farak worked on, the ACLU and public defenders have asked for blanket dismissal of every case the former analyst touched (MassLive)
Related: Greenfield Recorder

A new study from M.I.T. reveals that facial recognition software programs are 99% correct when used on people with light skin, but have a nearly 35% error rate for people with darker skin. The NY Times notes, “In modern artificial intelligence, data rules. A.I. software is only as smart as the data used to train it…One widely used facial-recognition data set was estimated to be more than 75 percent male and more than 80 percent white, according to another research study.”  (NY Times)

The Crown Prosecution Service in the United Kingdom will review all current rape cases involving digital evidence after it was discovered that at least fifteen police departments had outsourced their digital forensic work to unaccredited private labs in the past year (Guardian)

Researchers at Rutgers University have developed a new DNA database that seeks to “help bring more reliability to the interpretation of complex DNA evidence” (

“Researchers have identified fifteen genes that determine our facial features”
(Science Daily)
Related: “Forensic Facial Reconstruction Could Now Look to Your DNA”

“Y chromosome profiling, important in sexual assault cases, can often be presented incorrectly in court. New math could help by taking the ambiguity out of the equation.” (

Thanks to the NY LAS : This is their DNA Newsletter.

About csidds

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