Just two years ago, GEDmatch was still an obscure genealogy website, known only to a million or so hobbyist DNA sleuths looking to fill in their family trees. The site was free, public, and run by two guys with a knack for writing algorithms that helped relatives find each other. All in all, it was a pretty controversy-free place.
That all changed in April of 2018, when news broke that police had used GEDmatch to identify a suspect in the 40-year-old Golden State Killer case. As the site emerged as a crime-fighting tool, some users and privacy experts began to worry about how people’s genetic data might ensnare them in criminal investigations, when all they wanted was to learn about their family history. The transition has been rocky for GEDmatch. One drama after another has engulfed the website: Police searches have grown increasingly invasive; the site’s owners tried to react with changes to its terms of service that ended up backfiring; and white-hat hackers pointed out glaring security flaws. But starting Monday, that’s all someone else’s problem.
BRENDAN MAX AND two of his colleagues in the Cook County, Illinois, public defender’s office got some good news and some bad news in the spring of 2018. Actually, it was the same news: The three lawyers had nearly aced a proficiency test designed for fingerprint examiners.
None of them had any training or real expertise in latent fingerprint analysis — the practice of trying to match a fingerprint collected from a crime scene to the known print of a suspect — aside from what they’d learned during their years working criminal defense.
Big Names. Big Science; a Big-Time CLE Experience!
Don’t miss this great opportunity for a no-nonsense, national networking CLE featuring the leading faculty in their respective fields. This two-day event is produced in partnership with the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ).
As Tony Aiello entered his nineties, he had false teeth, an artificial hip, and an artificial knee. He gripped a walker to hoist himself out of bed. Stiff in the back, he had contraptions to help him pull on his pants and socks, along with a shoehorn to slide his feet into velcro-strapped shoes. He had hearing aids and a pacemaker with a defibrillator for his triple-bypassed heart. He would read recipes in the living room and forget the ingredients by the time he reached the kitchen. Arthritis stiffened the fingers that had served him for decades as a deli butcher, so he cut food with scissors. He took blood thinners for his congestive heart failure. The slightest nick while pruning trees in the yard would make him bleed until his wife, Adele, would, as he put it, “patch me up.” After losing an inch or so to age, Tony stood 4’11”.
Still, Tony would brag, “Nobody believes that I’m 90.” He could do anything—“a little slower.” Perhaps that was just Tony being Tony. People who’d known him for decades said he’d always had “little man syndrome.” But maybe there was something to the bravado. Neighbors said that not so long ago, Tony seemed hale—a stocky figure walking down the sidewalk in a tank top, like a pint-size, sure-stepping Marlon Brando. He was gutsy too: When he was about 80, he met Adele Navarra while they were in line at the Save Mart meat counter and asked her to coffee the same night. He bought two dozen roses for the occasion.
Please remember the 18th Annual Public Defender Clothing Drive at the Orange County Courthouse on Saturday, December 7th between 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. We will be located at the circular driveway at 435 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801, to receive your donations and thank you for your contributions. Donation receipts will be provided.
We are happy to take your donations throughout the year. Please call the office at 407-836-4806 to schedule a clothing pick-up or drop-off.
Public Defender, Ninth Judicial Circuit
435 N. Orange Ave., Ste. 400, Orlando FL 32801
Join us for a lunch and learn event featuring Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ President Hal Schuhmacher for a presentation on DUI defense. Hal will share techniques and strategies to use pretrial defense motions to reduce the state’s power and achieve better outcomes in DUI cases. Lunch will be provided by Fresh Kitchen. CLE credit will be available for Florida bar members.
The Georgia Capital Defenders had scheduled a great October CLE program in Savannah captioned “Telling the Client’s Story,” but had complications which prevented them from going forward. We contacted GCD and offered to put on their program in Orlando with the always helpful Barry School of Law as hosts. Next, our partners at the National Center for Forensic Science joined the party with their support. The final, special ingredient came with friend of PD9, Professor Richard Rogers, agreeing to join us on Friday.
So, with all this energy and collaboration we are presenting this program on Friday, Nov. 8, all day Saturday, Nov. 9 and a Sunday, Nov. 10 morning closing session. Please review the agenda. You will find a very thorough Daubert program as well as the modified Georgia program.
Pricing will be in the $200 range for the entire event. CLE credit calculations are pending. To register, please click here.
A prosecutor projected a grisly photo onto a screen for the jury. It showed a little girl’s feet, burned up to her ankles and covered in blisters. The 2-year-old had climbed into a bathtub when nobody was looking, her grandparents had said, and the hot water must have been set too high.
In the Texas courthouse 100 miles east of Dallas that day in September 2012, the prosecutor turned to his expert witness and asked whether he believed the child’s injuries could have been the result of an accident.
Today’s criminal defense bar is facing ever-increasing challenges when protecting their clients from law enforcement searches, unreliable information and prejudicial evidence. This program will arm you with the tools necessary to combat these intrusions and prosecutorial overreach, and equip you with effective strategies to suppress them whether on 4th and 5th Amendment grounds or by other pretrial motions.
Our nationally recognized faculty of experts and leading litigators will address the latest challenges and tactics to effectively suppress and preclude use of the prosecution’s evidence. You will acquire the skills necessary to suppress searches whether they arise from the increasing intrusions into our privacy as technology advances or old fashioned methods such as racial profiling, canine sniffs or knock and talks. Learn the latest techniques to suppress eyewitness identification and statements obtained in violation of your client’s Miranda rights. We’ll also cover creative motions to file, to preclude the admission of prejudicial evidence, inadmissible hearsay violating the right to confrontation and Daubert challenges to unvalidated forensic science and so-called prosecution experts. Most importantly, you will be provided with the strategic tools and arguments to protect your clients from a large variety of law enforcement and prosecution abuse.
There’s no time like the middle of winter to join your NACDL colleagues in sunny San Diego for this essential program to prepare yourself for future litigation.
Methods for screening suspected controlled substances include the use of color tests. When used properly and performed alongside other confirmatory testing methods, these tests can provide positive identification of suspected controlled substances. When applied in the field under imperfect circumstances by law enforcement personnel, it could lead to false positives.
Dr. Blair’s research team is seeking to provide a modernized system for field drug testing to law enforcement. Their technology leverages fluorescence spectroscopy by way of a handheld spectrometer using relatively inexpensive parts. For field use, a portable drug testing system that consists of a handheld fluorescence spectrometer and a mobile app with access to a reference photoemission spectral database for drug standards is being actively developed. This completed system will provide law enforcement officers with a simple, more accurate, adaptable, and affordable testing method for field drug identification.
A child abuse pediatrician will present an overview of the medical evaluation for suspected sexual abuse. Examples of the different roles between physician and nurse providers will be outlined stressing the necessity of specialized training regardless of degree and the importance of participating in ongoing education and case review for quality assurance. Salient features of how the exam is performed, findings interpreted, and when/how collection of DNA/laboratory specimens are collected. Specific attention will be paid to why most children who have been sexually abused will have “normal” exams and why that typically does not discount or rule out a child’s disclosure of sexual assault/abuse. Content will be appropriate for both medical and non-medical child abuse professionals.
This summer, Robert Wesley, Public Defender of the Ninth Circuit, partnered with Dr. Candice Bridge from the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the National Center for Forensic Science (NCFS) to provide a Forensic Science Law Camp for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida.
This law camp gave middle school and high school children an introduction to a career in forensic science. The students had the opportunity to learn how to compare fingerprints and ask for career guidance. This experience culminated in a mock trial at the end of the summer.
The Ninth Circuit for Orange and Osceola Counties, UCF, and the NCFS is committed to outreach programs like this one to help educate and make careers in Forensic Science accessible to the community.
View more photos below.
Unfamiliar faces aren’t welcome at Beijing public housing projects. To prevent illegal subletting, many have facial-recognition systems that allow entry only to residents and certain delivery staff, according to state news agency Xinhua. Each of the city’s 59 public housing sites is due to have the technology by year’s end.
Artificial intelligence startup Megvii mentioned a similar public housing security contract in an unspecified Chinese city in filing for an initial public offering in Hong Kong last week. The Chinese company, best-known for facial recognition, touts its government dealings, including locking down public housing to curb subletting, as a selling point to potential investors.
Sexual assaults are an unfortunate reality in modern society. While DNA is the go-to forensic evidence in sexual assault cases, the reality is that the use of condoms is increasing in an effort to minimize the type of DNA left at the crime scene, e.g. sperm/semen. Therefore, in the absence of DNA, it is necessary to identify other types of evidence that could be used to link the three points in the criminal triangle, i.e. victim, suspect and crime scene.
One such type of evidence that has not been explored is lubricant analysis. Identifying novel capability that assist laboratories in making determinations in lubricant analysis would aid the crime lad to make connects to the assailant. Another type of evidence that commonly overlooked are cosmetic particles that may transfer during physical contact, e.g. glitter and shimmer particles.
This talk will discuss current efforts that we are conducting to understand the evidentiary value of lubricant and cosmetic evidence and appropriate analytical methods to analyze and characterize unknown samples collected in a sexual assault or physical assault cases.
New York City detectives questioning a boy facing a felony charge last year offered him a McDonald’s soda. When the boy left, they took the straw and tested it for his DNA.
Although it did not match evidence found at a crime scene, his DNA was entered into the city’s genetic database. To have it removed, the child’s family had to petition a court and file an appeal, a process that took more than a year. The boy was 12.
Larry Swearingen is scheduled to be executed Wednesday by the State of Texas.
It was 19 years ago that Swearingen was convicted of the abduction, rape and murder of Melissa Trotter. This is the sixth time that Swearingen had a date with death in the Texas prison system. But lingering questions about his guilt have caused the courts to repeatedly step in.
David Camm lost 13 years of his life to eight drops of blood.
In 2000, the Indiana state trooper was charged with murder after finding his wife and two children shot to death in their home. During the three trials that followed, the prosecution brought in bloodstain experts who argued that the flecks of blood on the t-shirt Camm had worn the night of the murder were “high-velocity impact spatter”—proof, they said, that he was the shooter. Analysts called by the defense, on the other hand, testified that the blood was actually a transfer stain that had smeared onto Camm’s clothing after he’d tried to help his children.
Testifying for the defense, forensic scientist Robert Shaler disputed the claims of the bloodstain experts on both sides, insisting that the blood’s scant patterning was “too little information from which to draw any meaningful conclusion,” Pamela Coloff at ProPublica reported last year.
BB&T will be two full days incorporating a mock jury trial!
All FACDL seminars, apart from Booster Shot-Criminal Law Certification Review seminar, are intended to: promote the excellence of, disseminate knowledge to, and provide education to, the criminal defense community. In that regard, attendance at all seminars (apart from the certification review seminar) is limited to criminal defense attorneys, mitigation specialists, defense investigators and other staff involved in providing criminal defense.
- Registration for this event grants FACDL permission to use photographs and/or video of the registered attendees in publications, news releases, website pages, social media and in any other FACDL communications related to the mission of FACDL.
- Those seminar attendees in need of additional services under ADA, please provide notice of your needs to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than September 6, 2019, so arrangements can be made in advance.