Articles Tagged with dna

Except in a slightly different context, but still a similar point.

Errin Morris, Cognitive Biasl and Evaluation of Forensic Evidence, The Champion, NACDL, May 2012.

Remember, USACIL and all the others get a full brief sheet on why the evidence should be tested and lots of facts.  The subsequent testing is not done in the blind.

Gianneli on the Unreliability of Microscopic Hair Analysis

Giannelli paul cPaul C. Giannelli (Case Western Reserve University School of Law) has posted Microscopic Hair Comparisons: A Cautionary Tale on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Report on forensic science, “testimony linking microscopic hair analysis with particular defendants is highly unreliable.” This is a stunning conclusion because hair evidence has been admitted in numerous trials for over a century. 
The NAS Report was not the first to raise issues concerning hair evidence. In 1996, the Department of Justice issued a report discussing the exonerations of the first twenty-eight convicts through the use of DNA technology. This report highlighted the significant role that hair analysis played in a number of cases of these miscarriages of justice, including some death penalty cases. In 1998, a Canadian judicial inquiry into the wrongful conviction of Guy Paul Morin was released. His original conviction was based, in part, on hair evidence. The judge conducting the inquiry recommended that “[t]rial judges should undertake a more critical analysis of the admissibility of hair comparison evidence as circumstantial evidence of guilt.”

I expect we’ll see several commentary’s about the Hennis trial.  Here is one from Myron Pitts, FayObserver.com, which he calls, “Evidence adds up in support of Hennis verdict.”  (Along with the article is a great list of links to prior reporting on the case.)

I saw a military jury convict Hennis on April 8 and sentence him to die Thursday[.]

Hennis’ lawyer, Frank Spinner, said at the bottom of the courthouse steps that the jury never got to know his client, who did not testify. The jurors instead were treated to gruesome photos of the murder scene, he said.

1.  What ever happened to the Coast Guard O-6 in Alaska pending GCM for a host of offenses. 

The former Coast Guard Sector Anchorage Commander was awarded the maximum allowable punishment at an Admiral’s Mast Friday and will retire on July 1 in the grade of lieutenant with a general discharge in lieu of trial by a general court-martial.

Capt. Herbert M. Hamilton, III, was relieved of command in May 2009.  An investigation conducted by the Coast Guard Investigative Service revealed that Hamilton had inappropriate relationships with several women, including officer and enlisted Coast Guard members, and civilians, over a period of more than 13 years.  Hamilton also was charged with misusing government computers and cell phones; making false official statements; and soliciting an enlisted member to destroy evidence.  His retirement as a lieutenant in lieu of trial by a general court-martial is the result of a pretrial agreement and Hamilton’s unsatisfactory service in the grades of captain, commander, and lieutenant commander.

I came across this item reading some history on the current court-martial.  DNA has gained a prominent place in the prosecution and defense of criminal cases.  But this piece illustrates that the DNA may only be as good as the testing done and the people doing the testing.

The Army began its prosecution in 2006 after a cold case detective with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office ordered DNA tests on the rape kit of Eastburn and on a blood sample from Hennis. That testing, conducted by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, matched Hennis’ DNA to sperm found in the rape kit, according to court documents.

The military has done further testing, lawyers said Monday.