About

Dr. Mike Bowers is a practicing dentist in Ventura, CA. Dr. Bowers is a clinical associate professor at the University of Southern California. In addition, he is a licensed attorney and has assisted the Innocence Project Network in cases where forensic science has erroneously convicted innocent defendants throughout the US.  His latest book is “Forensic Testimony: Science, Law and Expert Evidence”  and “Forensic Dental Evd” available at Amazon.com.51thlZGjvsL_00341gBJMxHRcL

Click on book image to order from Amazon

57 Responses to About

  1. mike says:

    NIST Claims They Can Identify Hair Samples By Measuring The “Type of Shampoo” A Suspect Used!
    https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2016/11/nist-unveils-forensic-technique-measure-mechanical-properties-evidence

  2. mike says:

    Junk Science Warning: Cellphone Smudges Yield a Trove of Forensic Data:

    How long before this tech. is used to convict people?
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/cellphone-smudges-yield-a-trove-of-forensic-data-1479153602

  3. mike says:

    Forensic bitemark identification: weak foundations, exaggerated claims:
    https://academic.oup.com/jlb/article/2544494/Forensic-bitemark-identification-weak-foundations

  4. mike says:

    Concerns as face recognition tech used to ‘identify’ criminals:

    Some face recognition experts question their methodology. One issue is that the criminal images came from a Chinese database of ID photos, whereas the non-criminal images were internet profile pictures belonging to Chinese citizens, meaning the system could have picked up on differences between the two sources rather than in people’s faces.

    Wu and Zhang tried to counteract this by standardizing the images, for example making them the same size and turning them greyscale. But Jonathan Frankle from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says that’s not enough. “The fact that the data comes from two different places is a fundamental flaw. Any differences will be picked up,” he says.

    It’s not a problem to ask a controversial question, says Francois Chollet, a deep learning researcher at Google, but the science has to be well founded. “It is not ethical to make a bad science argument,” he says.

    Mike Cook at Falmouth University, UK, says that this kind of research risks turning machine learning into the “phrenology of the 21st century”, like deducing a person’s traits from the bumps on their head. Seemingly impartial computer programs give an air of legitimacy to inaccurate or controversial interpretations. “Suddenly, the conclusions drawn by an algorithm have been cleaned up and made to look scientific,” he says.
    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2114900-concerns-as-face-recognition-tech-used-to-identify-criminals/

  5. massprivatei says:

    Border Patrol Allowed to Guess People’s Passwords and use Cellbrite to Spy on Their Electronic Devices!

    A DHS officer took defendant’s Motorola phone, iPhone, and iPad from a Customs officer at the border when defendant was arrested for importing cocaine in her car. The Motorola phone wasn’t password protected, and it was examined with a Cellebrite device. “The Cellebrite device uses software to capture data which has not been deleted and would be visible to any manual user, including contact lists, pictures, and text messages.” She was questioned. Then the iPhone and iPad, which were password protected, were similarly searched when the officer correctly guessed the password: her birthday. This was a reasonable search under United States v. Cotterman, 709 F.3d 952 (9th Cir. 2013) (en banc) because it was not a forensic search. Assuming the password protection provided an added reasonable expectation of privacy, there was reasonable suspicion. United States v. Lopez, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176920 (S.D.Cal. Dec. 20, 2016):

    The fact that the iPhone and the iPad were password protected using the Defendant’s date of birth did not transform the Cellebrite search into the type of computer forensic examination used in Cotterman. Even assuming, however, that the password protection on the iPhone and the iPad required additional constitutional protections, any requirement for reasonable suspicion would have been met in this case. The agents were investigating the smuggling of controlled substances into the United States. The agents had a “particularized and objective basis for suspecting” that the devices searched would contain evidence of criminal activity. United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417, 101 S. Ct. 690, 66 L. Ed. 2d 621 (1981). Under the totality of the circumstances, the Court concludes that the search in this case did not violate Defendant’s rights under the Fourth Amendment.

    http://fourthamendment.com/?p=25179

  6. mike says:

    Lawyers raised doubts about Austin, TX., DNA lab work as early as 2009:

    The Forensic Science Commission’s report slammed the Austin Police Department lab for using outdated calculations that overstated the certainty of the results and were “neither scientifically valid nor supported by the DNA forensic community.” The use of old procedures to interpret test results means an expert witness theoretically could tell jurors that the chances are 1 in more than a billion that the genetic material in question belonged to someone other than the defendant, when those odds really are more like 1 in 100.

    The commission said employees weren’t properly trained and that the lab’s leaders refused to acknowledge their mistakes. They also identified one case in which mistakes put the wrong person under suspicion in a rape case.
    http://www.statesman.com/news/lawyers-raised-doubts-about-austin-dna-lab-work-early-2009/3XPHeUDcTLYMWt9DGu7LGN/

  7. mike says:

    First offender DNA sample that should have been destroyed under state law but wasn’t could be used in federal prosecution:
    http://fourthamendment.com/?p=25422

  8. joe says:

    Junk Science Warning: Smartwatch app, claims to be able verify handwritten signatures and detect even the most skilled forgeries:

    “Handwritten Signature Verification Using Hand-Worn Devices”
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311736780_Handwritten_Signature_Verification_Using_Hand-Worn_Devices

    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mhtNvGaJfU

  9. mike says:

    Cornell University-AI Algorithms To Scan Faces to Determine Criminality:

    “We study, for the first time, automated inference on criminality based solely on still face images. Via supervised machine learning, we build four classifiers (logistic regression, KNN, SVM, CNN) using facial images of 1856 real persons controlled for race, gender, age and facial expressions, nearly half of whom were convicted criminals, for discriminating between criminals and non-criminals. All four classifiers perform consistently well and produce evidence for the validity of automated face-induced inference on criminality, despite the historical controversy surrounding the topic.”
    https://arxiv.org/abs/1611.04135

  10. joe says:

    Junk Science WARNING: Heart Monitor Data Leads to Mans Arrest For Arson & Fraud

    Police said data they were able to retrieve from his electronic heart monitor was one of the key pieces of evidence that led to them charging Ross Compton.

    According to court documents obtained by WLWT, a cardiologist told police that those actions were “highly improbable” because of Compton’s medical condition.

    Police sought to prove that by collecting electronic data stored in Compton’s electronic heart device. They wanted to know Compton’s heart rate, pacer demand and cardiac rhythms before, during and after the fire.

    Police told WLWT on Friday that it was an excellent investigative tool, and the information that was retrieved didn’t match Compton’s story.

    “It was one of the key pieces of evidence that allowed us to charge him,” Lt. Jimmy Cunningham said.
    http://www.wlwt.com/article/middletown-mans-electronic-heart-monitor-leads-to-his-arrest

  11. mike says:

    Texas Panel on Wrongful Convictions Calls for Ending Use of Unverified Drug Field Tests:
    https://www.propublica.org/article/texas-panel-wrongful-convictions-calls-end-use-unverified-drug-field-tests

  12. mike says:

    Junk Science? Criminal forensic ornithologists
    http://theweek.com/articles/677652/deadbird-detective

  13. mike says:

    TX Appeals court chides prosecutors, overturns sexual assault conviction:

    Saying that Tarrant County prosecutors made “misstatements of evidence” and misrepresented some facts to the degree that they “are not facts at all,” an appeals court overturned a child sexual assault conviction of a man who claimed he was simply acting as the girl’s caregiver.

    The Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth also entered a judgment of acquittal for Calub Bocanegra, who had been convicted of sexual assault of a child young than 14 in 2015 and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
    http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article134840789.html

  14. joe says:

    Junk Science Warning: Researchers find that brain imagery shows difference between knowing or reckless behavior in criminal acts

    In a brain imaging study of 40 people, researchers identified brain responses that indicated whether people knew they were committing crimes or if they were instead acting recklessly with the risk that they might be committing a crime. (A study of 40 people isn’t scientific by any stretch.)

    The researchers provided the first neurobiological evidence of a detectable difference between the mental states of knowledge and recklessness, an exploration that historically has been confined to the courtroom.

    “People can commit exactly the same crime in all of its elements and circumstances, and depending on their mental states, the difference could be one would go to jail for 14 years and the other would get probation,” said Montague, who is the Virginia Tech Carilion Vernon Mountcastle Research Professor and director of the research institute’s Human Neuroimaging Laboratory. “Predicated on which side of the boundary you are on between acting knowingly and recklessly, you can differentially be deprived of your freedom.”

    http://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2017/03/neuromas-vtcri-03142017.html

  15. joe says:

    Thousands of Colorado DUI convictions could be in doubt amid forgery allegations:
    Colorado lawyers specializing in drunken-driving cases are questioning the validity of thousands of convictions after a technician who certified the state’s breath-test machines said his signature was forged on more than 100 records in 2013.

    In addition, a former laboratory director’s signature is still being used on some certificates more than a year after she left the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in July 2015. Those certificates are being used in DUI trials to prove machines were recording accurate blood-alcohol content.

    “This is the lab we’re asking to go into court and testify to the veracity of their machines,” said Darren Cantor, president of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. “It really makes me question whether the CDPHE is capable of doing that.”
    http://www.denverpost.com/2017/03/14/colorado-dui-convictions-forgery-attorneys/

  16. csidds says:

    More evidence of police ‘oversight’ of forensics, regardless of certification by the commercial crime lab industry, is fraught with agenda conflicts and lack of fairness.

  17. joe says:

    Judge allows bite mark evidence 2017:
    Blair County judge has decided that bite mark evidence can be included in an upcoming murder retrial for Paul Aaron Ross, as long as the testimony reflects guidelines published by the American Board of Forensic Odontologists.

    http://www.altoonamirror.com/news/local-news/2017/03/judge-permits-bite-mark-evidence-for-ross-retrial/

  18. joe says:

    Illinois Supreme Court: Man Falsely Arrested For 7 Weeks Because of Vitmans Can Sue Police:

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave an Illinois man a new chance to sue the city of Joliet and its police officers who arrested him on trumped up charges and kept him in jail for nearly seven weeks.

    The 6-2 ruling ordered the federal appeals court in Chicago to reconsider a lawsuit filed by Elijah Manuel. Police arrested him in 2011 and falsely claimed he was in possession of the illegal drug known as ecstasy.

    The police persuaded a prosecutor that Manuel had illegal drugs and the prosecutor took the case to a grand jury and obtained an indictment. When prosecutors finally saw a police lab report showing that the pills Manuel had were vitamins, the indictment was dismissed.
    http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2017/The-Supreme-Court-is-giving-an-Illinois-man-a-new-chance-to-sue-a-Chicago-suburb-and-its-police-officers-who-arrested-him-on-trumped-up-charges-and-kept-him-in-jail-for-nearly-seven-week/id-e6591e8bb92f419cb750132e37436028

  19. joe says:

    ACLU: Fighting for justice for those affected by the Mass. drug lab scandals
    https://aclum.org/cases-briefs/commonwealth-v-cotto/

  20. joe says:

    EPIC Warns Congress about Law Enforcement Forensic Techniques:

    EPIC has sent a letter to a House Judiciary committee concerning “the state of forensic science in the United States.” Citing the work of EPIC Advisory Board members Erin Murphy and Jennifer Mnookin EPIC said that oversight of forensic techniques, such as DNA and algorithms, is needed to ensure confidence in the criminal justice system.

    Last year, EPIC filed public records requests with six states to obtain the source code of DNA forensic software. EPIC has previously warned the US Supreme Court to carefully assess the reliability of investigative techniques. EPIC also argued a federal appeals case against DNA dragnet surveillance.
    https://epic.org/2017/03/epic-warns-congress-about-law-.html

  21. joe says:

    Familial DNA Searches: Close Enough:

    The mere mention of DNA may make people’s eyes glaze over, but it also brings a smile to their faces. After all, DNA is magic and solves everything. If you’re guilty, DNA will prove it. Innocent? That too. Potentially related to the possible perp, who can’t be identified but close enough to have the cops drop the hammer on you? Wait, what?

    That’s familial DNA searching, and progressive New York loves it.

    When a search of CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) fails to find a match, they play horseshoes:

    This new search looks for known people who do not match completely, but nonetheless share a significant portion of the perpetrator’s DNA profile. The theory is that such commonalities, depending upon how many there are and how rarely or frequently they occur at random in human populations, are more likely to be observed in relatives than in unrelated people.

    So if you can’t find the perp, you find their relatives (maybe) and squeeze them to give up the perp. Or shoot them if they come to the door with a Wii controller in hand or an aggressive stance, Or there’s the familial propensity argument, that crime runs in their DNA, which justifies taking people for whom there is no evidence of wrongdoing and making them perp lite.

    But isn’t it worth it if it solves just one crime? Allison Lewis at the Legal Aid Society explains in a Newsday op-ed:

    If you end up on law enforcement’s radar through a familial match, cops might rummage through your trash for abandoned DNA, ask your neighbors or employer about your whereabouts or show up at your door and request your DNA to prove your innocence. You may never know it’s happening before you are excluded. Or your life could be turned upside down, depending on police discretion.

    Opponents of familial searching don’t dispute the underlying principle of gene sharing among relatives. And by scooping up a broad range of people, the method will occasionally close cases. The question is whether the government should access our DNA this way.

    Familial searching implies that criminality runs in the family, and that law-abiding relatives of the convicted deserve less privacy and more suspicion. The suggestion that criminal behavior is genetic echoes dangerous, long-debunked pseudosciences.
    http://blog.simplejustice.us/2017/03/31/familial-dna-searches-close-enough/

  22. joe says:

    FYI, The hyperlink you posted on. ‘National DAs backup DOJ and police control of #Forensic Standards and Practices’ isn’t working.

    The hyperlink you posted is incorrect.

  23. joe says:

    Texas crime-scene errors put 65 cases under review, audit finds:

    Dozens of criminal prosecutions could be in jeopardy after errors by a Houston crime-scene investigator raised questions about key evidence in cases that include 26 homicides, five officer-involved shootings and six child deaths since 2015.

    The revelations Wednesday in a crime lab audit sent prosecutors with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office scrambling to untangle the possible problems, first with a blanket notification to criminal defense attorneys and then a public statement.

    “Any deficiencies in the collection of evidence at a crime scene are extremely disturbing and important,” said David Mitcham, the trial bureau chief of the DA’s office. “It’s not minor. It can create problems of proof later in a court of law.”
    http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/New-evidence-problems-raise-questions-in-65-11068118.php

  24. joe says:

    The Entire Massachusetts Criminal Justice System Is Tainted, Not Just the Dookhan Convictions:

    Over an 8-year period, roughly one in three drug cases prosecuted by Boston’s Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley may have involved tainted evidence.

    An ACLU data scientist analyzed the records and discovered that 62 percent of Dookhan-tainted convictions were for drug possession, and over 90 percent were prosecuted in low-level, district courts. These facts contradict assertions by the state’s district attorneys that public safety required the preservation of the tainted convictions.

    As we get closer to that April 18 day of reckoning, the people of Massachusetts should know that while the corrupt chemist from the Hinton lab has already been convicted, incarcerated, and released, the rest of the justice system has done very little to address the fundamental failures that allowed the so-called “rogue” chemist to violate so many people’s rights for so long.
    https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/entire-massachusetts-criminal-justice-system-tainted-not-just-dookhan-convictions

  25. joe says:

    Another Startling Verdict for Forensic Science:
    This week, The Washington Post reported the first results from a sweeping study of the FBI forensic hair comparison unit, finding that 26 of 28 examiners in the unit gave flawed testimony in more than 200 cases during the 1980s and 1990s. Examiners overstated the accuracy of their analysis in ways that aided prosecutors. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Innocence Project are conducting the study with the cooperation of the U.S. Justice Department.

    The development is only the latest to shake public faith in what police and prosecutors have often cited as scientific proof. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences published an exhaustive review of the forensic sciences, concluding that only nuclear DNA analysis has a foundation in research. “Although research has been done in some disciplines,” the report states, “there is a notable dearth of peer-reviewed, published studies establishing the scientific bases and validity of many forensic methods.”
    https://www.propublica.org/article/another-startling-verdict-for-forensic-science

  26. joe says:

    State Police Crime Lab eyes familial DNA searching, a controversial crime-solving tool:
    http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/crime_police/article_0dd1fd72-1b0c-11e7-829a-1be06412d0c8.html

  27. joe says:

    Virginia Appeals Court: So-Called ‘expert testimony’ at the original trial had no basis in fact.

    “The Virginia Court of Appeals revived a medical malpractice suit stemming from the death of a child during a tonsillectomy after concluding expert testimony at the original trial had no basis in fact.”
    http://www.courthousenews.com/experts-flawed-testimony-leads-revival-malpractice-case/

  28. joe says:

    “Innocent People Have Been Sentenced to Death in Oklahoma,” Commission Report Concludes:

    The commission urges the state to correct the “systemic flaws” in its death penalty system before seeking to restart executions, or sentencing any new defendants to death row.
    Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission Report:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-Vtm7xVJVWONmdNMmM5bzk3Qnc/view

  29. joe says:

    Magic Cop Powers (Or Lab Tests Are For Losers)
    Cobb County, Georgia, Police Officer T.T. Carroll isn’t just a special cop. He’s an expert. It’s not just him saying so, but he’s got a piece of paper from the International Association of Police Chief’s that says so.
    http://blog.simplejustice.us/2017/05/08/short-take-magic-cop-powers-or-lab-tests-are-for-losers/

  30. joe says:

    The Justice Department’s guide to using psychics in police investigations:
    https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2017/may/12/DOJ-police-psychics/

  31. joe says:

    Ancestry.com takes DNA ownership rights from customers and their relatives:

    How many people really read those contacts before clicking to agree? And how many relatives of Ancestry.com customers are also reading?

    There are three significant provisions in the AncestryDNA Privacy Policy and Terms of Service to consider on behalf of yourself and your genetic relatives: (1) the perpetual, royalty-free, world-wide license to use your DNA; (2) the warning that DNA information may be used against “you or a genetic relative”; (3) your waiver of legal rights.

    AncestryDNA, a service of Ancestry.com, owns the “World’s Largest Consumer DNA Database” that contains the DNA of more than 3 million people.
    https://thinkprogress.org/ancestry-com-takes-dna-ownership-rights-from-customers-and-their-relatives-dbafeed02b9e

  32. joe says:

    Current Maricopa Co. forensic pathologist was reprimanded by Navy:

    Recent investigations have uncovered a number of employees at the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office with questionable pasts — many of whom serve as expert witnesses for the state in high-profile murder cases.
    http://www.12news.com/news/investigative/current-maricopa-co-forensic-pathologist-was-reprimanded-by-navy/436483549

  33. joe says:

    More Junk Science? ‘Practical Paper Fingerprinting based on Texture Patterns’

    In this paper, we propose a novel paper fingerprinting technique based on analyzing the translucent patterns revealed when a light source shines through the paper. These patterns represent the inherent texture of paper, formed by the random interleaving of wooden particles during the manufacturing process. We show these patterns can be easily captured by a commodity camera and condensed into to a compact 2048-bit fingerprint code.
    http://homepages.cs.ncl.ac.uk/feng.hao/files/texture-rescue-practical.pdf

  34. joe says:

    After finding his doppelganger, innocent man is freed from prison:

    In a story that could be a narrative arc from the new season of Twin Peaks (if the new season of Twin Peaks actually had coherent narrative arcs), a man is out of prison after finding an inmate look-a-like who may have actually committed the crime he served 17 years for.

    The Kansas City Star reports that Richard Anthony Jones was convicted in 1999 for an aggravated robbery in Roeland Park, Kansas, that he swore he did not commit. There was no DNA or fingerprint evidence linking him to the crime at the time—just eyewitnesses who said they recognized Jones’s face.

    While locked up, Jones reportedly began hearing rumors of another prisoner also named Richard who bore an uncanny resemblance to him. Suspecting that he could be doing time for his prison doppelganger’s crime, Jones reached out to the Midwest Innocence Project for help.
    http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article155279329.html

  35. joe says:

    Texas Forensic Reform: Building the Infrastructure for ‘Justice Through Science’
    https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2965851

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