DNA fiasco: rape conviction quashed

Farah Jama leaves the Court Of Appeal


A RETIRED judge has been called in to investigate how a mix-up over DNA evidence led to a Melbourne man being wrongly convicted and jailed for rape.

Farah Jama, 22, spent 15 months in jail after a sample of his DNA contaminated one taken from a woman believed to have been sexually assaulted in the toilet of a Doncaster nightclub.

Victoria's Court of Appeal yesterday quashed his conviction after prosecutor Brett Sonnet admitted that a ''substantial miscarriage of justice'' had occurred in the case, probably due to a mix-up at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. The institute has asked retired Supreme Court judge Frank Vincent to investigate.

A County Court jury had rejected Mr Jama's protests that he had never been to the club or met the woman, and had been at home with his family in Preston on the night of the incident.

[So was he convicted on flimsy or flawed circumstantial evidence?]

Mr Jama was convicted of raping a 48-year-old woman found semi-conscious in the toilet cubicle in July 2006. The woman had little memory of the night and said she had not seen any men with black skin at the over-28s venue, but swabs taken from her vagina and containing semen were matched to Mr Jama.

[No id from the witness!]

Mr Sonnet said it was likely the DNA sample from the woman had been contaminated since the same forensic medical officer had taken a swab from Mr Jama's mouth in a separate investigation a day earlier. Mr Sonnet said the risk of DNA contamination had never been explained to the jury.

[It also could have been contaminated on purpose at the will of police themselves. And could also be another case of police planting profiled DNA evidence at a crime scene.]

The case follows concern about methods used at the Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre at Macleod, which also conducts DNA testing.

[What about concerns about relationships used at the Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre at Macleoad, which conducts the DNA testing for the police?]

The Age, [Newspaper], revealed last month that Victoria's Director of Public Prosecutions, Jeremy Rapke, QC, had ordered police scientists to retest all DNA evidence used in prosecution cases over the past five years due to concern that low-level profiles from suspects were unreliable.

[Good throw off by the Age Newspaper here switching the concerns to the alleged unreliable tests, there, from the possibility of police corruption here. How about we stay with the possibility of corruption and the planting of DNA evidence and leave the other case reviews to Mr Rapke QC?] 

The problems have prompted the Law Institute of Victoria to warn of the dangers of convicting on DNA evidence alone. Michael McNamara, the institute's criminal law co-chairman, said: ''People treat [DNA] as the be-all and end-all but you shouldn't run a prosecution based on one piece of evidence, particularly where there is such room for human error.''

Opposition police spokesman Peter Ryan said the Jama case was ''a stain upon the justice system in Victoria'', adding that ''the general picture of forensics'' in the state was of great concern.

The director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Professor Stephen Cordner, said processes on which the institute relied might have resulted in contamination of swabs taken during an examination of the alleged victim.

[May have BUT more likely than not also have been POLICE CORRUPTION.]

But Professor Cordner said the ''interpretation and utilisation of the results were not within the control of the [institute]''. He added: ''The contribution of any particular factor to the wrongful conviction is a matter of speculation at this point.''

Victoria Police moved to distance itself from the case. A media spokeswoman, [who?], said police were ''aware a number of questions have been asked about [our] forensic services centre in recent weeks'', but she stressed the institute was a separate organisation contracted to provide a service to police.

[A Separate institution with an affiliation to police. One of those affiliations would be to get the 'job done if you want the work! Another one could be whose in bed with who? Or even Noble Cause Corruption. And these people are taking profile samples and then laying them off. All those prisoners waiting for their alleged crime to happen!!!!!]

Spokeswoman who? 'Victoria Police is confident this is an unfortunate, one-off event,'' she said.

Mr Jama's lawyer, Kimani Boden, said he would pursue compensation for his client, who was sentenced in July last year by County Court judge Paul Lacava to six years' jail, with a minimum of four years.

The Court of Appeal released Mr Jama on bail on November 18 after Mr Boden took up the case and had him take another DNA test.

''Our scientist … couldn't reproduce the result the Crown had,'' Mr Boden said. He said the Crown had retested the same sample and confirmed the original result, but could not account for its continuity.

Chief Justice Marilyn Warren and Justices Robert Redlich and Bernard Bongiorno agreed to the orders quashing Mr Jama's conviction yesterday.

Mr Jama said he was relieved at the acquittal but traumatised by his experience. ''It was very horrible. You're always worrying about what's going to happen to you in prison,'' he said.

Now, he said, ''I'm really grateful for the justice''.


By KATE HAGAN THE AGE & Edited by Gregory Kable
December 8, 2009

Related DNA Planting Links:


Corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes


Others have raised concerns about corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes.

One case points to misinterpretation of evidence that helped put a man behind bars. The other shows just how easy it is to plant falsely incriminating DNA evidence. As our forensic techniques become ever more sensitive, so the possibility of abuse continues to grow.

Military lawyers await probe on DNA tampering

The Army's Criminal Investigation Command said nearly 500 forensic test results from all services dating back 10 years are under review after one of its examiners allegedly faked results. About 119 of those cases pertain to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder

As long as the the prisoners DNA wasn't planted at the crime scene. It is one thing to force prisoners to hand over their DNA and another thing to exploit it.

Related: DNA Conviction Links:

An Ex Prisoner who was forced to hand over his DNA to the police data-base via the prison system during his earlier sentence. So at all material times police had his DNA profile and DNA is not hard to collect and plant.
Arrest made over woman left for dead Yes you have a fantastic team that have been working around the clock who have been deeply affected by what has happened to Lauren. However, that does not mean the police can just pluck out any scapegoat for the crime and line them up either? This is not CSI! Or Hollywood!



AT LEAST six criminal cases have been put on hold after new flaws were found in police DNA evidence procedures.

Chief Commissioner Simon Overland yesterday said he had banned police forensic scientists from giving evidence ''until further notice''.

The flaw in the system involves the interpretation of results provided from new-generation DNA equipment that is more sophisticated than previous technology.

Mr Overland said the machine, which has been operating since September, was accurate but the problem was with the statistical analysis of the results.

''Our statistical model has not kept pace with the new technology,'' he said. ''The science has outstripped the model.

''It is my view that the interest of justice is best served by us taking this course of action. It is my belief and hope that we will have this issue resolved before courts resume in late January.''

The Age last month revealed that the Director of Public Prosecutions had ordered a review of cases involving low-level DNA because of doubts over the system. The move followed the collapse of an armed robbery case in the County Court against two suspects after a police expert admitted DNA analysis could be unreliable.

Mr Overland said police and the DPP would check which cases could be affected by the flaw. He said there was a handful of cases due in court before Christmas that could be affected. ''Our latest advice is that about six cases are involved at the Magistrates and County courts.''

Attorney-General Rob Hulls said ''a very small number of matters may have to be adjourned until the end of the year''.

Victoria Police is the only Australian law enforcement agency using the new technology, but police in New Zealand have, [allegedly], successfully introduced the sensitive equipment without similar problems.

Mr Overland said overseas experts would be used to review the system.

DPP Jeremy Rapke, QC, last week wrote to the state's criminal barristers asking them to identify cases they believe have been affected by unreliable DNA evidence. He invited the barristers to contact his office with ''relevant details if you think any of your cases are affected. This development will affect some pending cases.''

The Law Institute of Victoria's criminal law section chair, Michael McNamara, said the move showed police had no confidence in the system.

"We do not know how many cases are going to be affected, but one case is one too many cases,'' Mr McNamara said. ''We've seen one bad result this week. It would be dreadful for half a dozen people to be in jail for Christmas who should not be there.''

Police said they did not believe the flaw would result in completed cases needing to be reopened because the problem only involved DNA analysis in the past three months.

Mr Overland said DNA would continue to be tested but the results would be analysed only when the scientific methodology was acceptable.

He said the DNA flaw was not connected to the sample contamination scandal that resulted in a rape conviction being quashed by the Court of Appeal on Monday.

Farah Jama, 22, spent 15 months in jail after a contaminated Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine DNA sample linked him to an alleged sexual assault in a Doncaster nightclub.

The police Forensic Science Laboratory is expected to be heavily criticised in an Ombudsman's report due to be tabled in Parliament today.

The 15-month Ombudsman's investigation was launched after a police audit discovered that drugs valued at millions of dollars had gone missing.

The review found drugs listed as destroyed had been kept and exhibits that should have been stored were destroyed.

By John Silvester The AGE December 10, 2009

Related:

AUSTRALIAN POLICE CORRUPTION

DNA fingerprinting 'no longer foolproof'...


         Pioneer of process calls for upgrade
The genetic profiles held by police for criminal investigations are not sophisticated enough to prevent
false identifications, according to the father of DNA fingerprinting.

Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, a geneticist at Leicester University, said police DNA databases should hold more information to lessen the chances of a false positive.

He was speaking at a briefing to mark the 20th anniversary of his pioneering of DNA fingerprinting.

Genetic profiles stored by police normally record the details of 10 specific parts of the long chain of molecules that make up a person's DNA. The chances of two unrelated people having the same details for all these 10 markers - and hence the chance of a false identification - is said to be about one in a billion. This method has traditionally been regarded as highly efficient at identifying suspects from DNA traces left at crime scenes.

[As long as the DNA traces weren't left at crime scenes by police.] 

However, Prof Jeffreys said the increasing number of records being held on the police database - currently about 2.5m - meant that having only 10 markers per person was no longer foolproof.

He suggested 15 or 16 markers to reduce the chances of two people having the same profile to one in more than a trillion. American law-enforcement authorities are already considering changing the profiles in their DNA databases along these lines.

In Britain, DNA evidence has been used in countless criminal investigations and the police regard it as an invaluable tool. Peter Gill, of the Forensic Science Service, which administers the national DNA database for the police, said his agency was "confident that the 10 markers currently used are sufficient".

He said: "The chance of an adventitious match is fairly small, yet we never discount the possibility, and all our reporting officers are aware of this.

"If the DNA profile is partial because the sample is degraded, then adventitious matches often occur. However, it is important to remember that the national DNA database is an intelligence database. This means that before a decision to prosecute can be given, all of the evidence in the case must be carefully considered. DNA is never reported in isolation. The jury makes its decision based on all of the evidence presented."

[Just plain rubbish and propaganda because they take DNA from prisoners and even those who are charged in the UK and not found guilty. Not just that but their careful consideration has led to those being found guilty on flawed circumstantial evidence to allegedly back up alleged foolproof DNA results.]

Prof Jeffreys also gave a warning against keeping DNA records of people who had been wrongly suspected of crimes - something the police have been legally allowed to do since 2001.

In certain parts of the country, this could lead to an over-representation of certain ethnic groups, [and prisoners], and could lead to resentment, he said. The solution was either to delete records of those who had been cleared of any offence or simply to extend DNA profiling to everyone in Britain. 

He also expressed reservations about the idea of extracting anything more than simple identification data from DNA. "Police store not only the DNA profile but also the physical DNA," he said. "If they have that, there is the long-term risk that people could access health information in the future.Police have absolutely no right to that information."

He sought to calm civil liberty fears that police might reach the stage of producing Photofits based solely on DNA information, saying science would be a limiting factor.

There are few robust tests for identifying physical characteristics from someone's DNA - such as hair and eye colour and broad ethnic origin - although research in the area is continuing.

Outlining the challenges for DNA profiling, he said the basic science had been achieved, but the problems now lay in improving the technology.

He asked: "Can we speed up and simplify the procedure?" Within a decade, he pointed out, police may have hand-held devices that could profile DNA samples they found at the scene of a crime in a process taking only a few seconds and costing a few pence.

[Once again the neglect to assume that police can do no wrong? Like planting DNA at crime scene's, see links] 

A scientific revolution

1984 Alec Jeffreys, a geneticist at Leicester University, discovers DNA fingerprinting by accident during research while studying how genes differ between people and how they evolve.

1985 His technique first used to reunite a boy with his family after an immigration dispute. It showed with a certainty of 99.997% that the boy was the true son of UK citizens originally from Ghana.

Also in 1985, the notorious war criminal Josef Mengele's remains, thought to be buried in Brazil, were positively identified by Prof Jeffreys using DNA fingerprinting.

1987 UK patent granted. Prof Jeffreys licenses technology to Cellmark Diagnostics, a subsidiary of ICI.

1988 Colin Pitchfork is first person to be convicted on the basis of DNA evidence for the rape and murder of two girls in Leicestershire. DNA evidence rapidly gains acceptance in US and UK courts.

1989 First serious attempt made to have DNA evidence excluded from a criminal trial in murder case against New York handyman Jose Castro. Though scientists concluded the DNA evidence was flimsy, Castro later confessed.

By Alok Jha posted 10 September 04
Corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes

Others have raised concerns about corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes.

DNA - A Shadow of Doubt

One case points to misinterpretation of evidence that helped put a man behind bars. The other shows just how easy it is to plant falsely incriminating DNA evidence. As our forensic techniques become ever more sensitive, so the possibility of abuse continues to grow.

Military lawyers await probe on DNA tampering

The Army's Criminal Investigation Command said nearly 500 forensic test results from all services dating back 10 years are under review after one of its examiners allegedly faked results. About 119 of those cases pertain to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder

As long as the the prisoners DNA wasn't planted at the crime scene. It is one thing to force prisoners to hand over their DNA and another thing to exploit it.

Police DNA bungle: 7000 cases in doubt


Police in Victoria will have to re-examine every crime solved using DNA after admitting evidence used to lay a murder charge was contaminated.
Victoria Police have withdrawn murder charges against Russell John Gesah because of doubts raised about the validity of DNA evidence.

Gesah was charged in July with the cold-case [putrid-case] murders of Margaret Tapp and her daughter Seana.

The pair were found murdered in their Ferntree Gully home in 1984.

Police say they have notified the victim's family to explain the problems with the DNA test.

Police have also expressed deeply regret and have apologised to all involved.

Deputy Commissioner Simon Overland will explain the situation at a press conference this afternoon.

Gesah, an inmate at the Fulham Prison near Sale, in eastern Victoria, was arrested after police thought they had found a match for a DNA sample on the girls clothes, from the national DNA database.

Quote: Did you hear the story about the man that thought he could plant a feather and grow a chook? Why not blame the butler? Too much CSI?

Updated Wednesday, 6 August 2008:

Vic Police to review 7,000 cases after DNA contamination

Victoria Police are reviewing more than 7,000 cases involving DNA evidence, after the discovery of a mistake in a 20 year old murder investigation.

At the time police said breakthroughs in DNA technology allowed them to link Gesah to the crimes through a national DNA database.

Deputy Commissioner Simon Overland now says the evidence from the Tapp murders had been contaminated.

["What we had here was an error, it's a human error, that's the reason that we have systems, because humans aren't foolproof and occasionally they make mistakes," he said.]

Police say that the contamination occurred in 1999 when clothing from an unrelated offence had been examined and found to contain DNA matching Russell John Gesah.

Some of the clothing from the Tapp murder case was examined on the same day.

The area was cleaned in between each examination but since that time, procedures have been upgraded to reflect more stringent cleaning processes, in line with more sensitive DNA tests[?]

Where two apparently unrelated cases are matched through DNA, further checks are required, and that is where the problem was picked up.

Police say new procedures are now in place to make sure this kind of mistake is never repeated[?]

Checks and reviews are underway to make sure there are no other potential problems[?]

"We obviously regret them. It's preferable that they had not occurred, but they have and we can't really do more than that."
Quote: This bungle proves that DNA evidence to convict people is patently flawed and there should be a public enquiry to look into all matters where DNA is used to charge or convict people, cold case or not. Some people are convicted on DNA evidence alone, oh, besides some circumstantial evidence, hearsay, slander, innuendo and being virtually tried by corporate media about it.

Updated: Friday, 2 October 2009

FORENSIC and civil liberty experts have condemned New South Wales criminal DNA testing process after a glitch led to a man's wrongful conviction.

A review by New South Wales Health of its "cold links'' system earlier this year found the department's laboratory mistakenly linked a man to a break and enter because of human error.

The system matches DNA evidence collected at a crime scene with people on the state DNA database.

Convicted in early 2008, the man was given a nine-month suspended sentence.

The discovery of the error prompted an exhaustive review of the 17,000 cold links dating back to 2001, when the DNA database was established.

Acting NSW chief health officer Greg Stewart said the review had so far revealed no other errors, and he reassured people the DNA testing system was sound. [?]

Dr Stewart said the mistake was caused by a human sampling error at NSW Health's Division of Analytical Laboratories (DAL), but he stressed the science behind DNA testing was not in question.

"A human error occurred where tests were incorrectly located in a series of tests,'' he said.

"There are thousands of tests done, and they are done in series of 96 at a time, but one of those was out of sequence.

"The wrong crime sample was placed into a well, and that led to DNA from one crime scene being ascribed to a person who was not at that crime scene.''

Professor Mark Findlay, director of the Institute of Criminology at Sydney University, said DNA testing was not an exact science and samples were too often relied upon as the only evidence in criminal prosecutions.

"It's very easy for the analysis to be flawed because it goes through several hands and several stages,'' Prof Findlay said.

"People who look at that science - and they are lay people, judges and juries - are disproportionately impressed by it.''

NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Cameron Murphy said police and courts should rely on other evidence to corroborate a crime.

"It's far better for a guilty person to go free than for an innocent person to be in jail because the consequences are so horrific,'' Mr Murphy said.

Dr Stewart said the man's criminal record had been amended and proceedings had been launched to have his conviction annulled.

The lab technician responsible for the error had since retired, he said.

Dr Stewart said he did not know whether the man would launch legal action to seek compensation over the wrongful conviction.

"There are always openings for people who are convicted to seek redress,'' he said.

"His options have been discussed with him.

"He'll make his own decision.''

Dr Stewart said a similar error in the future was "most unlikely'' [?] because of testing improvements, including the introduction of robotics, and the practice of reviewing all case work before results are released to police.

An independent external review would also be conducted by Professor Hilton Kobus, a forensic science expert at Adelaide's Flinders University, Dr Stewart said.

[Please Note: Profiled DNA can also be planted at a crime scene see links.]

Corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes

Others have raised concerns about corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes.

One case points to misinterpretation of evidence that helped put a man behind bars. The other shows just how easy it is to plant falsely incriminating DNA evidence. As our forensic techniques become ever more sensitive, so the possibility of abuse continues to grow.

Military lawyers await probe on DNA tampering

The Army's Criminal Investigation Command said nearly 500 forensic test results from all services dating back 10 years are under review after one of its examiners allegedly faked results. About 119 of those cases pertain to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder

As long as the the prisoners DNA wasn't planted at the crime scene. It is one thing to force prisoners to hand over their DNA and another thing to exploit it.

Related History:

An Ex Prisoner who was forced to hand over his DNA to the police data-base via the prison system during his earlier sentence. So at all material times police had his DNA profile and DNA is not hard to collect and plant.
Arrest made over woman left for dead Yes you have a fantastic team that have been working around the clock who have been deeply affected by what has happened to Lauren. However, that does not mean the police can just pluck out any scapegoat for the crime and line them up either? This is not CSI! Or Hollywood!
Military lawyers await probe on DNA tampering
The Army's Criminal Investigation Command said nearly 500 forensic test results from all services dating back 10 years are under review after one of its examiners allegedly faked results. About 119 of those cases pertain to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes
Others have raised concerns about corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes.

Expert baffled by Falconio evidence DNA contamination
NT: The director of the Northern Territory's forensic science unit has told a Darwin court he does not know how his DNA contaminated a key piece of evidence in the Peter Falconio murder trial. [lost trial? After all he wasn't found?]

The ABC for good or evil?
He had a suspect that he wanted to find guilty based on the chances of a spouse killing a spouse which were greater in anycase, at least more likely than that of a stranger.

First Grabs To Control Our DNA
A small company in Australia has been subjected to gross denials of rights after DNA database technology was stolen from it's company. This one year saga has spawned them to form a new approach to projects of importance to all people.

Worries over DNA and racial profiling
UK: Black men are four times more likely than White men to be on the national DNA database and there is growing concern about racial profiling in criminal investigations.

Lab's Errors Force Review of 150 Virginia DNA Cases
US: WASHINGTON, - A sharply critical independent audit found that Virginia's nationally recognized central crime laboratory had botched DNA tests in a leading capital murder case. The findings prompted Gov. Mark Warner to order a review of the lab's handling of testing in 150 other cases as well.

Witch-hunt targets scientists
QLD: SCIENTISTS at the John Tonge Centre are being threatened with jail in the wake of a government hunt for the source of leaks highlighting serious problems in the forensic laboratories.



Police turn up hundreds of boxes of evidence from crime lab

US: The Houston Police Department has discovered evidence from 8,000 criminal cases that was improperly stored in its property room, Police Chief Harold Hurtt said today. The discovery adds to HPD's ongoing problems with its crime lab.

The 280 boxes containing evidence from cases processed between 1979 and 1991 were found in the property room in August 2003, but they were not opened until last week. 

The boxes include evidence - such as bloody clothing, human body parts and a fetus - from homicides and other cases. 

Hurtt said the department will methodically go through all of the items to look for new evidence in old cases. 

He expects the process to take about a year. The boxes were located as part of the department's ongoing efforts to improve its crime lab and evidence-processing capabilities. 

Hurtt said they sat unopened for a year because the labels on the boxes indicated they were from several hundred closed cases. The boxes actually could contain evidence from thousands of open and pending cases, Hurtt said.

By ROMA KHANNA 28 August 04
Related:
Criminal's DNA filed under relative's name
The New South Wales Opposition is calling for an investigation into claims that police have entered DNA data for serious offenders under incorrect names.
'Rape' officer clears his name
UK: A former policeman has been cleared of rape after protesting his innocence for 15 years. Judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh ruled that Brian Kelly, 47, had suffered a miscarriage of justice over crucial DNA evidence.


Even science may not make a death sentence infallible

In proposing a new death penalty for Massachusetts last month, Governor Mitt Romney offered firm assurance that no innocent people would be executed: Convictions, he said, will be based on science.

According to the proposal, a death-penalty verdict would require not only an especially heinous crime, but also ''conclusive scientific evidence'' of guilt. If it passed, Massachusetts would become the first state to require a scientific link to a crime to impose a death sentence.

[Conclusive scientific evidence like DNA can be planted at a crime scene?]

Romney's plan, however, comes at a difficult time for courtroom science.

[But], much scientific evidence is coming under fresh attack from lawyers and judges, either for technical unreliability or for the human errors that can color the results.

Even fingerprint analysis - once the gold standard of scientific evidence - is being questioned. Last month, an Oregon lawyer was released from custody after the FBI acknowledged he was wrongly linked to the, 
[false flag], Madrid terrorist train bombings through poor fingerprint analysis.

''The premise is interesting that scientific evidence is more reliable than other evidence. . . . 
It would be nice if it were true,'' said Simon A. Cole, an assistant professor of criminology, law and society at the University of California at Irvine. ''In the cases of wrongful conviction that we know about, scientific evidence is a very significant factor.''

Romney's plan, which would be applied only to particular first-degree murders such as killing a police officer or murders involving torture, does not require absolute scienti fic proof. Rather, it would require a jury to find evidence ''reaching a high level of scientific certainty'' that will ''strongly corroborate the defendant's guilt.''

While DNA is the most ironclad evidence now available
,[?], other categories such as photographs, video and audiotapes, fingerprints and tool marks may suffice. Multiple layers of review in the plan would ensure ''as much as humanly possible'' no innocent person be sentenced to death.

Military lawyers await probe on DNA tampering

The Army's Criminal Investigation Command said nearly 500 forensic test results from all services dating back 10 years are under review after one of its examiners allegedly faked results. About 119 of those cases pertain to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes

Others have raised concerns about corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes.

''We can't get to zero, but we can get close,'' said Joseph Hoffmann, a law professor at Indiana University who cochaired the panel that crafted the Romney plan.

Only a minority of murder cases have enough biological evidence to provide DNA, according to defense lawyers and crime experts. This means that the burden of proof could more often fall on far more subjective and much more controversial evidence, such as tire tracks or fingerprints. Though often presented as science by prosecutors and expert witnesses, such evidence is increasingly derided by defense lawyers and academics as an interpretive art.

''[Technicians] are actually told to develop this intuitive sense of certainty when they review fingerprint comparisons that they've obtained a match,'' said David Faigman, a University of California law professor who wrote ''Laboratory of Justice: The Supreme Court's 200-year Struggle to Integrate Science And The Law.''

He said there are no required standards for fingerprint analysis, and labs often declare a match between two prints based on years of examining fingerprints rather than a clearly spelled-out methodology. ''From a scientific standpoint,'' he said, ''that is the voodoo part.''

Faigman and other critics argue that science has a long and checkered history in the courtroom. Lawyers once used body characteristics, such the lengths of people's arms or shape of their heads, to prove a defendant's propensity to commit a crime.

In 1927, a phrenologist was called into court to ''read'' a woman accused of murdering her husband; the phrenologist declared that the suspect's chin ''tapered like the lower face of a cat,'' demonstrating treachery.''

As phrenology was being dismissed as quackery, the early 20th century saw the birth of forensic science as a specialized profession, with laboratories and experts who aimed to link suspects definitively to crime scenes.

Eventually, handwriting, fingerprints, photographs and blood samples became regularly introduced into evidence, and the belief that ''every criminal leaves a trace'' became a cornerstone of police investigations.

[Also by now, as well, other cornerstones of police investigations certainly included the 'ruling class', with their wide-spread use of 'planting or fabricating evidence at crime scenes. Evidence used to convict innocent people, evidence can easily be planted by police and set up by experts with biases to ensure 'noble cause corruption' convictions, a must for every ruling class.]

By the late 1980s, DNA testing had been widely adopted, and today technology is still marching on: A new technique called ''brain fingerprinting'', a kind of lie detector based on brain signals, was admitted into court in Iowa in 2003 in order to help free a man in prison for murdering a retired police officer. (The man was freed by the Iowa Supreme Court, although the judges did not refer to the technology in their decision.)

[The idea by the ruling class is to have a formidable tool to convict people for things like, 'state terror' and 'false flag' operations or to blame someone else who is innocent of a crime. DNA became that formidable tool. Now people who it is alleged that their DNA was found at a crime scene, would be convicted on 'flawed circumstantial evidence' based on their 'alleged' DNA being allegedly found at a crime scene.] 

If history is any lesson, however, today's certainty is tomorrow's question mark. For example, the rise of DNA testing has revealed enormous failings in the microscopic hair analysis that was considered reliable a generation ago. In 2002, DNA analysis helped free a Montana man who had spent 15 years in prison for rape based in large part on faulty expert analysis of pubic hair found at the crime scene. According to the Innocence Project, which works to free wrongfully convicted people, in 25 of the first 82 DNA exonerations around the country, scientists and prosecutors presented bad or tainted science to convict a defendant.

[Note: when the police or the ruling class don't ever want a persons miscarriage of justice known, then they usually destroy the DNA evidence used to convict a person. In NSW Australia there is no Innocence Panel either.]

So concerned was the US Supreme Court about the growing role of science in the courtroom in the 1990s that the court instructed judges to act as gatekeepers for scientific evidence, scrutinizing experts and procedures to be sure scientific techniques were peer-reviewed or tested, with known and acceptable error rates.

That instruction led to the first major court decision questioning fingerprint evidence. Two years ago, a Philadelphia judge ruled an expert could not link fingerprints found at a crime scene to a defendant because the matching technique used by fingerprint experts had never been proven valid. 

There was no proof, the judge said, that fingerprint analysis had been scientifically tested or its error rates calculated. The judge later reversed his decision after the FBI testified about training, procedure and error rates, but the challenge opened up the floodgates for other defense attorneys protesting fingerprint analysis.

''It has never been demonstrated that fingerprint examiners use a proven methodology,'' said Lyn Haber, a California forensic researcher.

With DNA analysis, the problem is different. 
[?] The scientific underpinnings of DNA analysis are welltested [?] and conceded to be solid even by critics.[? Not by this critic!]

But the certainty of a DNA match can be overshadowed by the larger question of 
how the DNA evidence was obtained and handled.

In the O.J. Simpson murder case, for instance, defense attorneys cast doubt on DNA results because of sloppy lab work, 
ultimately suggesting investigators planted the evidence at the scene. And a DNA match to a crime scene, many defense attorneys point out, only proves a suspect was there - not that he or she committed a crime.

[It doesn't even prove that they were there at all, it only proves that the DNA was there, but exactly who placed it there? Oh! Trust the false flag state terrorists they know best?]

''The problems with DNA are partly human error, or worse, human corruption,'' said Harvey Silverglate, a Boston civil-rights attorney 
who fears innocent people may still be convicted under the Romney plan.

Human error is also emerging as a key problem in crime labs, both in Massachusetts and around the country. Stephan Cowans, who was convicted in 1998 of shooting a police officer in a Roxbury backyard, was freed from prison this year 
after it was revealed the fingerprint evidence used to convict him did not come from his finger.

A recent article in Champion, a magazine published by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, noted widespread problems at crime labs across the country, many exacerbated by overwork and small budgets.

[But don't just be thrown off by crime lab mistakes because that only takes away the focus off planting evidence at crime scenes and that we cannot have a disregard for. Because the ruling class will claim that they fixed the problem with infallible crime labs, but diverted attention away from other flawed evidence problems and possibilities.]

In Massachusetts, a state report two years ago noted that space in the State Police crime lab in Sudbury was so limited that scientists had to extract evidence from suspect and victim's clothing on alternate days to avoid cross-contamination.

Stung by that report, officials say the state has since gone through a voluntary accreditation by a national board that sets standards for crime labs. 
[? See!!! Big Brother rubbish.]

But that is only partially true: The Sudbury lab is accredited only in DNA testing and "criminalistics,'' the analysis of trace evidence, fibers and tool markings. The offices of ballistics and fingerprint analysis are not accreditated; nor is the state's DNA database.

State officials say they are attempting to get them accredited and are also seeking a large increase in funds for that lab. 
[? What about other problems?] Under the death penalty plan, Romney has pledged to ensure that all labs are operating as flawlessly as possible so there will be no questions about the way evidence is collected or 
analyzed. [Rubbish!] If valid questions do arise, prosecutors would not seek the death penalty.

Death penalty opponents agree that if labs were better monitored and funded fully, there would be less suspicion about whether the evidence was tainted or analyzed incorrectly.

[But not less suspicion about whether evidence is planted.]

And the authors of the Massachusetts death penalty proposal are clear in wanting an independent scientific review of the collection, analysis and presentation of evidence, 
along with other safeguards. But as long as humans are involved in science, either analyzing it or interpreting it, mistakes can happen, others say.

''What we say in forensic science is the more certain the scientist is, the less reliable the scientist is,'' said James Starrs, a professor of law and forensic sciences at George Washington University.

''We all want to be on safe ground, always looking for a magic bullet. But our society can easily be taken in by science, and that is worrisome.'' 

By Beth Daley and edited by Gregory Kable posted 11 June 04

Clive Stafford-Smith: The Death Penalty
British lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith, who for the last 20 years has worked with death row prisoners in the U.S. is returning to his home in Britain, to fight for the Guantanamo Bay prisoners in Cuba.


New unit investigates unsolved deaths?



A new police unit has been established to investigate more than 360 unsolved deaths in New South Wales, with many of the deaths dating back more than 30 years.


Nine investigators have been attached to the Cold Case Unit, which has been set up to take advantage of significant advances in crime fighting technology. Police Minister John Watkins says the officers will use DNA,[?],evidence, digital fingerprinting and laser ballistics in their investigations.

"The 360 cases, some may be more positive for this new technology than others," he said.

"I'm careful not to raise the expectations of grieving families too high.

"We will apply new eyes, new investigative techniques, new forensics to these cases."

Police Minister John Watkins has announced a cold case review squad that will 'use new technology, such as DNA,
[?], to investigate unsolved crimes up to 30 years old.

The initiative seems particularly inappropriate given that DNA testing resources are already being inappropriately allocated, with the result that important current cases are not being properly investigated and innocent people - both convicts and remandees - languish in prison for want of the DNA evidence that would exonerate them. See for egample below.

DNA wait leaves rape victims in limbo

Showered with the hugs and kisses of her nine-year-old son, some days it is all Lee can do to make it beyond the front door. But as a rape victim, this is not the worst of her torment.

Since being assaulted while asleep in early December, the 29-year-old has been told she may yet have to wait a further seven months for the results of DNA tests that will allow detectives to proceed with her case.

Simply boosting DNA testing repeatedly over the past four years, without providing rational guidelines for its prioritisation and use is just a recipe for the sort of budget blowouts we have seen in the UK, the backlog blowouts we see in the US, a reduction in standards and reliability as more pressure is put on labs and more junior technicians are allocated heavier workloads and greater frustration from the public and investigators as the gap between rhetoric and achievable reality widens.

Canada is currently facing a similar crunch to NSW which some are blaming on TV programs like CSI, but which I think should be blamed squarely on politicians who are unable to act as leaders rather than cheer leaders.

Overwhelmed RCMP hires private lab to test DNA

OTTAWA - The RCMP's overworked forensic labs are contracting out some DNA testing to the private sector, raising concerns within the force about control over the important crime-fighting tool.

In the absence of rational public decisionmaking the field is left wide open for biotech PR consultants like Smith-Alling-Lane who will exploit increasing backlogs, delays and public outcries to secure more public money for their clients in the DNA testing industry while pushing for standards to be reduced and volumes increased to make more room for more shonks who will buy their clients' products.

DNA lag leaves thugs on loose 
By Frank Walker The Sun-Herald 18-feb-2001

Police are frustrated at long delays for laboratories to do urgently needed DNA tests on people suspected of involvement in violent crime. Dubbo police were told they had to wait two months to get DNA tests done on evidence found at a crime scene.

They wanted to 
test cigarette butts left by a man who had broken into a home accompanied by a woman and a child aged about 10 and tied up and bashed the home owner before robbing the house and stealing the owner's car. The butts were in the ashtray when the stolen car was found two weeks later in Sydney.

Police believe DNA tests would identify the suspect.

[And whatever else was either placed in the ashtray or found in the ashtray along side the alleged cigarette butts?]

The victim of the home invasion, accountant Geoff Henderson, was furious at the delay. "I want these people arrested. The next victim could be killed," he said.

A police source said the five DNA analysts working at the laboratory had a huge backlog and they were having trouble attracting more scientists.

National Party MP Ian Armstrong said the Government was not honouring its promise to properly resource the new DNA testing system. "The Government promised DNA testing would be used as a crime stopping measure," he said.

"Clearly the resources are just not available for police who are trying to take these violent criminals off the street."

[And it doesn't matter who goes down as long as the government can blame anyone, that they say fits the DNA profile? It wouldn't matter if the thing was contaminated or placed at the crime scene by someone? It wouldn't matter if the wrong person was locked up and the real perpetrator was still committing violent crime]

A police spokesman said there were priorities for testing. Murders and sexual assaults came first. "Police are seeking certain people as suspects in this case and DNA tests won't help find them," the spokesman said.

A spokesman for Police Minister Paul Whelan said the Government was committed to making sure the DNA tests worked efficiently and effectively.

[And the reason for that is that DNA profiling is all the government needs to blame a person for a crime, right or wrong? They can even find against a person on flawed circumstantial evidence together with an alleged DNA profile, and the person is found guilty because of the alleged lauded DNA technology that has also been previously found to be flawed and also planted at crime scenes.]

Since January 1 
police have had the power to take DNA samples from suspects in serious crimes carrying penalties of more than five years' jail. Police are building up a major DNA criminal database. [?] A 16-member task force has started collecting DNA samples from 5,500 of NSW's most dangerous prison inmates, starting with those about to be released. Mr Whelan said the database could help solve some of the State's worst crimes.

[Profiling prisoners' or ex-prisoners is wrong because prisoners are easy targets? Profiling those who are alleged suspects of a crime is also wrong because they are also easy targets, because they've been accused.

Also that is the best way the government can lay blame for crimes on others. That gives police a profile sample to start with and once they pick up an item, like a cigarette butt which could be planted at a crime scene the evidence, thanks to television programs like CSI, then becomes, allegedly undisputable?

Even if it's wrong and even if they lock up the wrong person on flawed circumstantial evidence, for a crime they never committed.

The government has the false flag tool, right or wrong.

All it takes is a bit of engineering and a professional witness to declare the facts and finding match, in some numerical capacity.

That raisises serious problems for the community.

This can cause gross miscarriages of justice, and also leave the serious violent perpetrator out there, one the street, to strike again and again with impunity.

You see DNA can be placed at a crime scene and tampered with.]

Corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes

Others have raised concerns about corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes.

One case points to misinterpretation of evidence that helped put a man behind bars. The other shows just how easy it is to plant falsely incriminating DNA evidence. As our forensic techniques become ever more sensitive, so the possibility of abuse continues to grow.

Military lawyers await probe on DNA tampering

The Army's Criminal Investigation Command said nearly 500 forensic test results from all services dating back 10 years are under review after one of its examiners allegedly faked results. About 119 of those cases pertain to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder

As long as the the prisoners DNA wasn't planted at the crime scene. It is one thing to force prisoners to hand over their DNA and another thing to exploit it.

By Starsky and Hutch 14 June 04


Related:
Fresh swipe at DNA labs
Scientist Kris Bentley, whose departure yesterday follows that of forensic biologist Deanna Belzer after concerns about "inaccurate" DNA results and unvalidated equipment, issued a scathing resignation letter leaked to The Courier-Mail.

DNA leads 'CSI' cold-case squad to first arrest?
Frozen case? I don't really know what to say about them until they come up with their case. They say it involves DNA evidence but that's the only stuff we know.
Criminal's DNA filed under relative's name
The New South Wales Opposition is calling for an investigation into claims that police have entered DNA data for serious offenders under incorrect names.

DNA fingerprinting 'no longer foolproof'...
The genetic profiles held by police for criminal investigations are not sophisticated enough to prevent false identifications, according to the father of DNA fingerprinting.

THE BUTLER DIDN'T DO IT!
PROFESSOR BARRY BOETTCHER: Now, there should be a law enacted within Queensland so that when cases come up like this they can be brought to attention and if an appropriate authority such as a judge of your Supreme Court considers that it merits further inquiry, an inquiry be ordered.

'Rape' officer clears his name
UK: A former policeman has been cleared of rape after protesting his innocence for 15 years. Judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh ruled that Brian Kelly, 47, had suffered a miscarriage of justice over crucial DNA evidence.

New unit investigates unsolved deaths?
A new police unit has been established to investigate more than 360 unsolved deaths in New South Wales, with many of the deaths dating back more than 30 years.

Prisoner's bid for review denied
Prisoner Roger Cheney has lost a Supreme Court action to have a judicial review of his 1993 convictions an 30-year jail sentence. Justice Shaw said he was concerned about the prisoner's claim that DNA evidence held by the police could prove his innocence. Although Cheney had requested the results of the DNA tests, he had been denied access to the forensic analysis.

QLD Prisoners DNA Bid THE curious case of Queensland's "cat lady" murder is set to test the state's legal authorities again, with the man convicted of the killing asking the Attorney-General to take the unprecedented step of releasing blood samples for DNA retesting.

Database clears up crimes?
NSW Police Minister John Watkins said at the launch of a Sydney conference of international forensic experts meeting to mark 100 years of fingerprinting in NSW. He said the collection of DNA from prisoners and suspects in NSW during the past two years had led to more than 5,400 matches on the forensic database.

A Question of Innocence
Katrina Bolton: The promise of DNA freeing the innocent as well as convicting the guilty has been repeated by politicians across Australia, usually while DNA laws are being expanded. The promise was made as a national DNA database, ‘Crimtrac’ was created, and it was made as NSW introduced legislation giving unprecedented powers to take DNA samples from prisoners, by force if necessary.

Weak Carr Government suspends Innocence Panel
It's a callous disregard for justice! The panel takes applications from convicted prisoners for DNA evidence to be analysed a move that may help in a future court appeal.

JUST BEAT IT! Govt lauds crime-solving technology?
The New South Wales Government says advances in crime solving technology are helping the progress of hundreds of police investigations.

DNA testing causes debate in murder case
The use of voluntary DNA testing in the investigation of a murder case in New South Wales has been applauded by victim support groups who are ill informed about the process said Justice Action's spokesperson Gregory Kable.

Abolition of double jeopardy law a political stunt: NSW Opp
Why draconian laws? What about the re-trial by media that goes along with it? Twice shy?

ARE YOU INNOCENT?
The NSW government has finally appointed somebody (Justice John Nader) to head up its Innocence Panel and has produced leaflets and forms for people convicted of serious crimes (eg murder) to apply for DNA testing if they believe it may help prove their innocence. You can get the info by phoning 1300 881 717 or writing to the panel at GPO Box 45 Sydney NSW 2001.

Is the Westminster System flawed?
Most people would say Lady Di got the boot and NSW has so much trouble getting the Innocence Panel moving. I said hey, what's going on!

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder Mass DNA testing of prisoners has led to the first NSW case of a person being charged with a previously unsolved murder as a result of a controversial gene-matching data bank. The Herald reported 25 Nov 02 "a DNA saliva swab led to the charging of a former prisoner with the bashing murder of a woman. Police had been unable to find any witnesses or suspects following the murder in Sydney's inner city two years ago. Detectives had admitted they faced a tough job finding the killer."

Prisoners can prove innocence for $20
Les Kennedy Daily Telegraph reported today that" Prisoners who believe that DNA will prove they were wrongly convicted will have the chance to prove their innocence for a mere $20 administration fee. The move comes 20 months after NSW inmates were asked to provide DNA for comparison with a databank of DNA from unsolved crime scenes for possible convictions.

DNA yours or mine?
Now they have isolated two genes that they say tells you if you're more likely to be depressed. What does that mean? It could mean that you should stay in jail because you are more likely than not to continue your offending behaviour according to a Department of Corrective Services Forensic Psychiatrist.

DNA = Do Not Assume - DNA Controversies!
The national DNA database of all known offenders proposed by Prime Minister Tony Blair could mean that innocent people will be accused of crimes they did not commit.

DNA Evidence of Bipartisanship
Last week the U.S. Congress passed the Justice for All Act, which includes provisions of the Innocence Protection Act. As of this posting, the legislation has not yet been signed by President Bush. Attached is an analysis of the legislation prepared by the Justice Project.

DNA - A Shadow of Doubt
One case points to misinterpretation of evidence that helped put a man behind bars. The other shows just how easy it is to plant falsely incriminating DNA evidence. As our forensic techniques become ever more sensitive, so the possibility of abuse continues to grow.

Here come de Judge - Time to Leave [266]
There have always been examples of rulings and interpretations that have supported the saying "The law is an ass". This is increasingly the case, because even the best intentioned judges are now facing an avalanche of new technologies and social change. But, it is no good making excuses for the judiciary and continuing to accept their strange interpretations. We must recognise that not only judges but the whole legal system will struggle more and more. In the end the whole system will become a farce. This is the way empires end.

2nd Renaissance -15 The Rabbits And The Wolves [180]
Historically, there have been periods when legal distinctions between animals and humans have been blurred. For instance, in medieval Europe, in the 14th and 15th centuries, numerous trials and executions of animals occurred. One source identifies 34 recorded instances of pigs having been tried and cruelly put to death. Besides pigs; rats, chickens, goats, and bees were similarly tried. Some of the pigs were fully dressed in human clothes at the time they were, inevitably, found guilty. In one case a vicar excommunicated a flock of sparrows that infested his church. All this happened despite the theological stance that animals had no soul, and no morals or conscience. They could not really be guilty of transgressing the Rule of Law.
Politics, Police, Prisons

Human Rights, Civil Rights, Democratic Rights, Politics, Police & Prisons