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Upcoming CSAFE Symposium Focuses on Source Code in Criminal Trials

Computer program source code on computer screen

The Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE) is hosting the Source Code on Trial Symposium that will explore the issue of access to source code in criminal trials. It will be held online March 12 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. CST.

New probabilistic and statistical methods are being developed to analyze forensic evidence. These methods are performed through computer software that frequently contains proprietary source code. Now courts across the country are asking whether criminal defendants should have access to the source code of forensic analysis software. This symposium will begin to address the challenges of source code used in criminal trial proceedings.

Edward Imwinkelried, the Edward L. Barrett, Jr. Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of California, Davis, will serve as the speaker for the opening session of the symposium. He will give an overview of evidentiary issues related to access to source code in criminal trials. He will also cover how criminal courts have handled the question of access to source code in the past and traditional legal remedies for protecting proprietary source code.

Following the opening session, a panel discussion will examine how to ensure a fair trial for criminal defendants when computer programs are used to analyze forensic evidence. The panelists will discuss when access to source code is necessary, alternatives to access to source code in evaluating computer programs and how to protect proprietary interests for computer program developers. Participants will be able to submit questions during the panel discussion.

Joining Imwinkelried on the panel will be:

  • Rebecca Wexler, assistant professor of law at University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
  • Mark Perlin, chief scientist and executive at Cybergenetics
  • Ric Simmons, professor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
  • Kelley Kulick, deputy public defender at Santa Clara County

 

The Source Code on Trial Symposium is free and open to the public, but members of the legal community, forensic practitioners and forensic science researchers are encouraged to attend.

For more information about the panelists or to register, visit https://forensicstats.org/source-code-on-trial-symposium/.

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