CSAFE researchers Simon Cole and Jeff Salyards presented webinars as part of the Forensic Evidence Essentials: Current Research and Trends webinar series. The series is provided by the National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law at Stetson University College of Law.
The six-part webinar series, designed for prosecutors and defense attorneys, will provide the most current forensic science research and trends and their impact on legal considerations.
The webinars will be presented live, but the recordings will be available on Stetson’s online learning platform. Attendees can receive continuing legal education (CLE) credit for each webinar, whether they attend the livestream or watch on-demand. It is not required to view every webinar in the series.
Cole, a professor of criminology, law and society at the University of California, Irvine, presented “Evaluation of Forensic Science Contributions to Erroneous Convictions” on July 21. This webinar presented data about the contribution of forensic evidence to DNA exonerations, discussed the exceptional nature of DNA exonerations and presented preliminary results from an ongoing study of the contribution of forensic evidence to all exonerations. It explored the temporal trend in the forensic contribution, the relative role of different disciplines and a brief overview of the kinds of problems with forensic evidence that contribute to erroneous convictions.
Salyards, a CSAFE research scientist, presented “Error Rate Testing: What Makes a Well-designed Study?” on July 28. As research studies continue to strengthen and improve forensic science disciplines, it has become increasingly important to understand how these studies inform the validity of each forensic science discipline. Error-rate studies have become an important means of assessing the scientific validity of various forensic science methods. Although numerous research publications exist for many forensic science disciplines, not all are validity studies designed to establish the accuracy of a given method. For the properly formatted validity, or error-rate, studies, some are better than others.
Salyards’ webinar covered the lexicon of validity and diagnostic testing. Many terms are misunderstood; some are used differently in the legal and scientific communities. He looked at the different types of research publications with an eye toward what qualifies as a validity study. He examined some of the most notable error-rate studies to enable litigators to understand their strengths and challenge their weaknesses. Finally, he explored the resources available to the legal community from CSAFE.
Other topics in the webinar series include:
- Bloodstain Pattern Analysis: Blackbox Error Rate Study
Aug. 17, 1-2:20 p.m. EDT
- Gunshot Residue Examination: A Current Perspective
Aug. 25, 1-2 p.m. EDT
- Electronic Evidence from Cell Towers: Significance and Limitations
Sep. 8, 2-3 p.m. EDT
- Firearms Examination: Strengths and Limitations
Sep. 13, 1-2:20 p.m. EDT
The webinar series is free, but registration is required. To register, visit https://stetsoncollegeoflaw-ncstl.thinkific.com/courses/webinar-series-forensic-evidence-essentials-current-research-and-trends.