Post Conviction 2009 : Luncheon Presentation

Uploaded by TheNFSTC on 02.10.2012

[ Music ]
>> I have the honor of presenting to you today.
First of all an announcement that Carol Henderson
who was supposed to be our luncheon speaker today is not
available to be here, she is ill, so...
but we do have someone who is going to take her place
and I think she can do it very aptly.
She is the Director of Outreach at the national clearing house
for science and technology and law.
Her name is Anjali Swenton,
many of you know her, some of you may not.
A little bit of a background, she does have a Masters
in Forensic Science from George Washington University
and also a JD from American University.
So I'll turn it over to Anjali.
>> Anjali: Thanks Mike.
>> Anjali: I would like to personally apologize again
for Carol Henderson.
She is the director of the National Clearinghouse.
She is also the president of the American Academy
of Forensic Sciences as many of you know.
She is a local resident here in Tampa and my personal belief is
that these Floridians can't handle this weather, honestly.
I did see her on Tuesday, I've been in town since Sunday
for another meeting which I'm going to mention
in my brief remarks, but she just hasn't been feeling well
and the academy meeting starts in just a couple of weeks
as I'm sure many of you aware, are aware and she felt
that she really needed to try to get herself well,
she's had a bout of flu.
So since I was here at the meeting,
she asked if I could give the talk this afternoon
and just tell you all a little bit about Clearing House
so that's what I'm going to do
and as Mike mentioned I am a forensic scientist
and also an attorney.
I have had the pleasure of working at NIJ for about five
and a half years as a contractor
when I was attending law school at night.
And so I know many of you from many of my past exploits,
but going to talk to you about the National Clearing House
for science, technology, and law and what resources we have
that may assist all of you, no matter what your role is.
If you're law enforcement, if you are a prosecutor, defense,
if you are a judge, if you are a scientist in a laboratory.
Our stakeholders are all of you as well as people
that we didn't necessarily initially think
of when we started this, this clearing house.
We have had lots of visits to our online database
from reporters and other media people seeking information
or doing research about an article.
We've been used extensively by students in, in all areas
in graduate science programs, in forensic science programs
and certainly law students.
So just going to tell you I don't think I'm going
to talk all the way through to the end of our time,
but this is the website, its
and if you haven't visited, I urge you to visit, it's,
it's pretty cool, we do have a graphic designer as one
of our employee contractors who does a lot of our graphics
and it's kind of fun to just visit the website
and look around.
We have one of my colleagues from the clearing house who was
on her way when we broke for a lunch to bring brochures,
we have pretty cool glossy glitzy brochures
that tell a lot more about the clearing house and I'm hoping
that when we break after lunch and go back
to the main meeting area
that there will be brochures available for you to take.
These are our main program areas
and I should also mention we are an NIJ funded entity
so we're housed in Gulfport Florida on the campus
of Stetson Law School.
I don't know how anybody in Florida goes to school that,
that the campus if any of you ever visited used
to be an old hotel, it's absolutely gorgeous
and every time I go there for a visit I, I keep thinking
if I was a student here I'd never get anything done,
I'd just sit by the fountains with by law books
and probably do no studying and do a lot more Sunday thing,
but Stetson Law School was actually the recipient
of the NIJ grant and we've had a grant for five years,
previous to that we had some seed funding from NFSTC
to begin our very first project
which is a searchable online database of all things forensic.
We also has a physical reference collection and we develop a lot
of training and education products.
We have several that are in, in flux right now
or actually being developed that are not yet available
and I'm going to talk to you about two of those
and then we also have a guest lecture series
where Carol will invite being the president
of the American Academy is a, is a great thing,
when you have a clearinghouse like this to run.
She's had people like Michael Bodin and Henry Lee,
Surowick [phonetic], and Helen Loranta [phonetic] from the,
from Europe, from Finland, come and do lectures to staff
and students at the law school and then we capture this
on video and have made DVDs of those lectures available and all
of the products that we have made available
of our training programs are free to use.
So there are some information in the brochures that I spoke about
and also if you go to our website,
there is contact information there if there's anything
that we've produced that you would like copies out,
feel free to go ahead and get those.
Christine Funk is in the audience upfront
because I made her sit upfront with me and I did a,
a local radio show on Tuesday and Wednesday night here
in Tampa that we got booked to do, 3 steps in law school,
and when we're talking about the clearing house,
the host of the radio show said, You guys need
like a glitzier, sexier acronym.
What this NCSTL?
It doesn't really roll off the tongue.
You need to come up with a, with a word first
and then make the acronym and the acronym is the name of the,
of the organization but I wanted to point
out that Carol did have a vision when she started this
and she's a huge Sherlock Holmes fan.
Those of you that may know she currently has two cats
and they are named Watson and Holmes.
She wanted to me to put a picture of the cats
in the PowerPoint, but I told her that's only allowed
when you're giving the talk.
But this is what she kind of envisioned
when she started the project.
Worldwide Accessible Technology And Science Online Network,
that is the national clearing house for science, technology,
and law and our general email if you're just going
to the clearing house for general email,
the email is Watson at,
so that's kind of how that fits in.
What is the online database?
It is a one stop shopping place,
it's a clearing house of information.
So we don't actually create the information that's put into it.
We have a fabulous set up which sounds a little bit similar
to what some of your offices, those of you
that are doing cold cases, you use law students,
we get to do that too.
We're at a law school so we get
to use law students are free slave labor, we don't have
to pay them, they get credit.
It's a mutually beneficial, you know, situation
and we always have more students each semester applying
for the class called directed research
than we can actually take.
They're managed by some of our full time research attorneys
who are on staff of the clearing house
and they get specific assignments,
they get a category, may be their category
that semester toxicology or DNA or latent finger prints
and they go through about you'll see it on the slide,
we have 35 different forensic topics like DNA, toxicology,
trace evidence, explosives.
For each one of those 35 categories we have information
from a variety of places, newspaper articles,
graduate students theses, presentations that are given
at professional conferences, of course things like case law.
So if you ever seen an advertisement for a conference
that you've wanted to attend but perhaps you don't have funding
or you can't travel or you have a conflict, we are trying
to get all of the presentations
from as many professional conferences
as we can possibly get.
Sometimes they will charge for them
and we don't have the budget to pay for them, but if we're able
to get them under on education exception, we will have links
or we will have copies of those articles accessible
through the database.
So again I need to repeat
that we don't actually create these entries
and so we have had some questions or concerns
about the validity or the reliability.
We're not making judgments
as to how scientifically reliable a particular article
may be, we sort of feel that it's important
if you're an attorney researching a particular issue
for a case, it's critical
that you get all the reliable information on DNA,
but it might be also equally important for you to know what's
out there in the public mainstream
that may not be reliable and there may be some way for you
to use that strategically in your case as well.
So, as I said it's a compilation of, of information
and we have had some copyright issues.
You know West Law writes their case, their case synopsis,
we can't just insert those into the clearing house.
So for anything where there may be a copyright issue,
we'll at least provide you the link where it resides
and then you may need to pay an additional fee
to get the full article or the full case depending
on what it is you're looking for.
We have users from over a 120 countries.
Anytime we go and give a talk about the clearing house
for example like something like the American Academy
of Forensic Science where you have a lot
of international attendees, we're able to go back
and track the hits on the website
from the different countries and that's always gratifying to know
that people are taking advantage.
This is just another graphic
from our brochures showing you a sampling of the different topics
that are included on the website.
Show of hands, how many of you've actually been
on the website, anybody?
At least some, you're all sitting toward the front,
good, alright.
This is a screen capture of the website currently
and you can see there's a place for you to sign in.
You are not required to register
because we are government funded, everything that we,
that we do and all of the resources
that we provide are available for free.
We do have a registration option and what
that gives you are just a few more features that you don't get
if you don't register.
So if you register and then have a, a username and a password,
if you return to the website at another time,
it will have things like your last ten saved searches,
so if you're in the middle of doing research on the topic
and you can't finish the project at that time and you want
to come back and you don't want to have to start all
over again it'll save what you did last.
So again it's not, there's no payment to use it
and there's no requirement to register, you can certainly sign
on as a guest, but we offer that option.
So those are just a couple of screen captures.
We have a bunch of links just like a lot of websites
that have forensic or a legal links, we, we do that as well.
We have an extensive section on DNA
and then also post conviction DNA.
We have legislation sections,
so again I would just you know recommend that you take a look.
We've got bibliographies.
A lot of times we've asked to because we have all of this data
on our website to compile data on a particular topic
for somebody giving a conference or for one
of our colleagues or for NIJ.
So we've compiled bibliographies on court cases
on post conviction on the CSI effect and a lot
of those are also available,
you can download the bibliography right off the
website and then you also each of the individual entries
in the bibliographies are hot linked and you can go directly
to those articles if you want to.
This is just included to show you that we do
if you did a search for DNA for defense a list of articles
and such would come up.
We also have an online newsletter,
it's called It's Evident, comes out quarterly,
it's published online and if you register or become a member
of our list serve, you'll be notified every time the new
issue comes out and the articles are written by members
of the NCSTL staff as well as members of our advisory board,
many of whom are in the room and people like you.
So if you're looking for another outlets,
if you're a frustrated writer and you're looking for an outlet
for an article that you want to publish,
this is a great place to do it.
My contact information is at the end of the presentation
and I would urge you to contact me, I can put you in touch
with our director of education who is the editor
for the, for the publication.
I believe the next, the next issue is, is due to be
out in April, I don't know what the publication deadline is
for that.
That's just a sample of what the newsletter looks like
and again all of the articles are hot-linked,
you can download them, you can print them if there's something
of interest to you and this is how you search the database
right when you come on, whether you've registered or not,
you can go to search database
and there's a fairly stringent search engine in there,
so you can go to say you're looking for DNA cases
in the state of Kentucky and you want to talk
about mitochondrial DNA in which may be mitochondria was offered
and excluded.
You can put in a bunch of key words and look under DNA,
Kentucky cases and a list of options will come up.
I should point out that we've started this project in 2002
and at that time we began populating the database
with information from 2002, excuse me forward.
So a lot of the information that's contained
within the database does not go back earlier than 2002.
At some point if we have more money, more students,
more resources, we would love
to put more information you know further back, but certainly as,
as I'm sure we're all aware, we're a little bit hamstrung
by the, the resources that we have and we're trying
to just keep up with the 35 topics and 20 different areas
on a daily basis moving forward.
This would be a sample record,
we may have because we do have law students doing this for us,
even though we can't use the case [inaudible] from West Law,
we can have the students write their own
and then there's no copyright issue and so that's
for the case law, that's where you'll find.
So that's it about the database and again I hope that,
that if you haven't already done so that you'll check it out.
I want to just talk to you briefly about two other projects
that should be of interest hopefully to this group and one
of them is a DNA for defense project.
Several of the members of that, of that group are here today.
We've been here working earlier this week
for another project that's been under our NIJ grant.
We were asked to cerate a training tool specifically
for the defense bar in the uses of DNA
and when we initially got the request, I kind of thought,
DNA is DNA, it doesn't matter what side of the bench you are
in or what side of the bar you are on in,
shouldn't matter scientifically, if you're a defense attorney or,
or a prosecutor and we all know that there's lots of information
and protocols and training out there already,
but we convened a focus group
and we asked them are there issues that are specific
to the defense and what we first identified were certainly
strategic things that if you're the defense bar may be there
isn't something already out there
that tells you strategically how to use DNA to your advantage
or to, to bolster your theory of the case and as we started
to work on this and try to flush out what the content should be,
we realized that there was a lot more that may be was already
out there but in a different way or not necessarily conducive
to have defense conducted their, their investigation
into the case or just to learn about.
If it's your first DNA case, you all remember your first, right,
right, was it painful?
We want to make it less painful,
so we want to provide information that's digestible
and understandable and then we'll have the pictures
of the people that are on the subject matter expert group
at the back so that if anybody still doesn't get something,
they can call one of the people that wrote it.
But we had these, these are the subject matter experts,
four of them are in the room right now,
I think, is Jules in the room?
Jules is in the back?
Christine Funk and Chris [inaudible] are setting up here
and Ron Reinstein, Ron's right upfront.
So Jack Valentine and Catherine Kotherine, are,
our two scientists, Kathy works for Cecilia Krafts who is
in the room and Vanessa Potkin works with Barry Shack
at the Anderson's project in New York
and Ed Embarsky is a public defender in Washington D.C.
So two scientists to judge by defense attorney is go
into a room, get locked in and don't come
out until they've created this, this training tool.
We have had seven meetings,
the last one was just this Monday and Tuesday.
We have one more scheduled for March 2nd and 3rd
and if you look at that, it's pretty ambitious,
we've pretty much done this just outside of one year,
gotten together a lot of times, this is a big time commitment
for the people that are on this group and we're up to just
under a 190 pages of text,
we have a DOJ editor who's been graciously assigned to us by NIJ
to help us, keep all our p's and q's in order to
and at our last meeting we are going to be working
on a glossary and a bunch
of appendix items like sample forms.
We've been told that you all like sample forms
so we don't want to just tell you, you can issue this kind
of order, it's, it's helpful to actually have samples
of that kind of order that other people have successfully used.
So we're going to provide all of that to you in appendix material
and then as soon as we're done we're hoping
to have the completed material sent to NIJ, fingers crossed
by April and as soon as they can get it published,
it will be available to you to utilize.
It will be primarily available as an online tool,
but we have also one of the concerns
that the defense bar had from the outset was
that defense attorneys don't necessarily work the same way
the prosecutors do.
They may not have internet access in their offices,
they may not be able to sit and read a 200 page document online,
it's going to be a lot longer once we get the appendix
material in there.
They like to have something printable because it may be
and I'm quoting the folks on my group here,
it may be you know an hour before they're going to the jail
to meet with their client that they want to reference something
that they need to, they all
of a sudden they realize mitochondrial is an issue,
they need to learn about mitochondrial on the way
to the jail, hopefully they are not driving
and reading at the same time.
But they really, they really emphasize the importance
of having a hard copy version available and they know
as we move toward a green, a green world and in the interest
of saving money NIJ has ceased to make hard copy publications
of a lot of their, lot of their, their publications,
but they have agreed to allow us or they're going to do it
for us hopefully to program this in such a way
that there will be a downloadable print version
so that you will have to print it yourself,
but you will be able to print either one chapter,
bring it with you to the jail or print the whole document
so you have a hard copy, so watch for that.
Again I can't give you an exact time of when it'll be available
but hopefully later this year,
that's pretty much what I just said
and then the last thing I want to just talk to you
about is a new project we just got a grant from the Bureau
of Justice Assistance, which is a sister agency of NIJ
and this is to conduct training of both the defense, defense
and prosecutors in capital states.
So this is basically a synopsis.
We're going to be giving two, two day training,
it's going to be same training, but we're just going to cut the,
the country in half, we've already got dates
to take a look up there.
We're going to do the first one here in Tampa, May 21st
and 22nd, so the eastern half of the country will be invited
to that one and then we're going to doing the second one,
November 19th and 20th in Phoenix, Arizona.
In order to qualify to attend, you do need to be a prosecutor
or defense attorney from a state that has capital punishment.
We will be training 75 people at each of these, the training just
like this one will be free.
So we are just getting ready.
I have a meeting next week with the program managers of the BJA
to finalize the faculty for these and also
to begin invitation process.
Basically this is my plea to you, I know that a lot
of times we hear about these kinds of things
after they've already happened and we want
to know why we didn't get the memo.
So those of you in this room, if you are an attorney
in a capital state and you're interested in participating
or attending or if you have colleagues that would be,
I would ask that you come find me, I'll be here
through the rest of the day, give me your business card
or contact me afterwards, that's my email address,
it, my contact information is also
in the conference material,
I'm listed under the strange category of other because I'm
from Maryland, I work from Maryland for the clearing house
which is here in Florida and I was sort of invited just
as an attendee so if you're looking for me
and you can't find me, I'm listed under other,
but my contact information is there and I would urge you
to contact me soon if you think you're interested
so that we can make sure we get invitations out.
I'm, I'm hopeful that what's going to happen is we're going
to have more interest than we can fill
and that we would then go back to BJA and ask
for money to do it again.
But I certainly don't want to have the embarrassment
of having 75 free seats at training
and not be able to fill them.
So tell your friends and let me know if you're interested
and with that if anybody has any questions I'll take them,
otherwise thank you.
>> Thank you.
[ Applause ]