The Legal Investigator The Legal Investigator, Vol. 36, Issue 4 : Page 3

Dealing with Forensics: Tips For the Defense Investigator Defense team members can have the deck stacked against them. Crime-related television shows often have a pro-law enforcement slant and present the purpose of forensic science as a means to be tough on crime and not so much the slant of defending the innocent. Juries today want certainty. What can de-fense investigators do to lessen the impact of the CSI Effect and the potential impact of forensic evidence? Remember: Any examples of uncertainty that can be presented to the jury can be used to create reason-able doubt. Here are some tips. • Do NOT assume that the evidence findings are reli-able. Look for the possibilities of errors or instances in which errors could conceivably occur. • Get second opinions and have the evidence re-tested. • Question the manner in which the evidence was collected, handled and tested. • Question the chain of custody. • Question the qualifications and credentials of foren-sic experts. Certification of experts is not uniform and the quality of the experts vary. • Keep in mind that all forensic certifications are not created equal and all forensic accreditations are not created equal. • Question statistics -have they been exaggerated? • Question the maintenance records and calibration records of testing equipment. • Question forensic evidence that is widely open to (mis)interpretation, such as earprint analysis, bite mark analysis, lip print analysis and handwriting analysis. In many areas, experts have testified to degrees of certainty that do not exist. • Check to see if the state has imposed standards on the preservation, collection, handling, etc. of foren-sic evidence. • Check to see if new research still supports the con-clusions of the forensic evidence. • Check to see if new research or more accurate methods of testing have been devised and use that information to cast doubt on the reliability and in-terpretation of the evidence. • Investigate the qualifications of the lab personnel involved in the testing process. If possible, find out where they received their education and certifica-tion. Question their level of training and skill and the quality of the program from which they gained their credentials. • Investigate the accreditation status of the crime lab. Even accredited labs make mistakes which can have real world consequences. winter 2012 Platinum Patron Kelly Riddle San Antonio, TX Member since 2009 Gold Patron NALI thanks the following patrons for their Gold Level sponsorship: • Burt Hodge, State Information Bureau, Inc. Call today for a FREE Insurance Evaluation!! (800) 683-1226 Background, Private Investigators, Security Guards, Private Patrol, Training, Title Abstractors, Computer Forensics, Security Consulting and more... General Liability Professional Liability / Errors & Omissions Hired / NonOwned Auto Workers Compensation Commercial Auto Property Coverage / Bonds Employment Practice Liability and more... Are you really covered? GL and E&O Limits: from as low as $250,000 to $5,000,000 Premiums: from as low as $521 -ARMED Admitted coverage in MOST states! Individual Policies, NO MASTER POLICY!!!! (Don't let other firms claims affect your rate!) Yergey Insurance Agency, Inc. 7420 Heritage Village Plaza Gainesville, VA 20155 5

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