Uncategorized – College of Law http://law.gsu.edu Public law school in Atlanta GA Fri, 24 Mar 2017 16:59:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://aeadmin1.gsu.edu/?v=4.6.1 Alexander, Feizollahi Receive U.S. Labor Department Grant http://law.gsu.edu/2017/03/06/alexander-feizollahi-receive-u-s-labor-department-grant/ Mon, 06 Mar 2017 14:43:46 +0000 http://law.gsu.edu/?p=206219 Charlotte S. Alexander, an assistant professor of legal studies in the department of Risk Management and Insurance at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business with a secondary appointment at the College of Law, has been awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Labor to study federal district court misclassification decisions along with… more »

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Alexander_Headshot_2014

Charlotte S. Alexander

Charlotte S. Alexander, an assistant professor of legal studies in the department of Risk Management and Insurance at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business with a secondary appointment at the College of Law, has been awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Labor to study federal district court misclassification decisions along with her colleague Mohammad Javad Feizollahi at the Robinson College of Business.

The purpose of the project is to understand how courts distinguish between employees and independent contractors, and the factors influencing their decisions. Alexander is principal investigator; Feizollahi, an assistant professor of business analytics, is co-principal investigator.

Misclassification refers to employers’ practice of improperly classifying employees as independent contractors. This distinction is important, because only employees get the benefit of employment and labor law protections, such as the right to the minimum wage and overtime, protections against job discrimination, workers’ compensation in case of occupational illness or injury, family and medical leave.

Workers may file suit to challenge their classification, and many have done so, particularly “gig” workers who are classified as independent contractors by companies such as Uber, Lyft, and TaskRabbit. However, employment and labor statutes do a poor job distinguishing between employees and independent contractors. This lack of clarity is further compounded because judges’ classification opinions have not been studied in a rigorous and systematic way.

“The law itself provides little help, and we lack crucial information about how judges actually deploy the employee-independent contractor distinction in the cases before them,” Alexander said.

The 24-month project, funded at $247,745, will study all U.S. District Court opinions addressing misclassification in cases filed in 2008 through 2015 (the first year for which complete data is available through the most recent calendar year when the proposal was submitted).

The project will use the tools of big data analytics to examine court opinions collected from the Free Law Project’s RECAP archive and the federal courts’ Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Text mining and content analysis will explore plaintiffs’ misclassification win/loss rates; legal tests used by courts; factors exerting greatest influence on judges’ decisions; and other worker, employer and litigation variables associated with plaintiff misclassification wins and losses.

“This research will illuminate the ways in which federal district courts draw the line between employee and independent contractor, a distinction that will come under increasing pressure as the structure of work continues to change in today’s gig economy,” Alexander said.

The project is one of nine Labor Research and Evaluation Grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor to support university-based research on workforce policies and programs.

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Law Review Announces 2017-18 Board Members http://law.gsu.edu/2017/02/22/law-review-announces-2017-18-board-members/ Wed, 22 Feb 2017 19:04:18 +0000 http://law.gsu.edu/?p=203600 Georgia State University Law Review has announced its 2017-18 board members. Jessica Williams-Vickery (J.D. ’18) will serve as editor-in-chief, and Erik Badia (J.D. ’18) as executive editor.

“I am excited and honored to be a part of the upcoming Law Review Board,” Williams-Vickery said. “I am optimistic about the year ahead and grateful for the… more »

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Georgia State University Law Review has announced its 2017-18 board members. Jessica Williams-Vickery (J.D. ’18) will serve as editor-in-chief, and Erik Badia (J.D. ’18) as executive editor.

“I am excited and honored to be a part of the upcoming Law Review Board,” Williams-Vickery said. “I am optimistic about the year ahead and grateful for the opportunity to work closely with so many of my talented peers. I look forward to welcoming new Law Review members and continuing to work as a team to produce a high-quality product.”

The remainder of the incoming board is as follows:

  • Managing Editor: Caitlin Fox (J.D. ’18)
  • Business Editor: Molly Steinhaus (J.D. ’18)
  • Student Writing Editor: Jesse Moore (J.D. ’18)
  • Articles Editors: William Hicks (J.D. ’18) & Tatiana Posada (J.D. ’18)
  • Research Editors: Ellie Miller (J.D. ’18) & Emily Polk (J.D. ’18)
  • Legislation Editors: Pearson Cunningham (J.D. ’18) & Megan Harrison (J.D. ’18)
  • Symposium Editors: Monique Mead (J.D. ’18) & Andrew Navratil (J.D. ’18)

“The new board brings a ton of varied and interesting experience to the table and it’s exciting to see that upward trajectory we’ve been witnessing the past several years,” said Pierre-Joseph Noebes (J.D. ’17), current editor-in-chief.

The 2016-17 board worked on various articles dealing with a wide array of legal topics, ranging from whether sites like Ashley Madison could be held liable for suicides to if Uber should be required to provide handicap accessible vehicles to patrons. Their daylong Law Review Symposium, “Quinlan at 40: Exploring the Right to Die in the U.S.,” featured panels of experts in law, medicine and bioethics discussing how changes in law and science impact patients’ and surrogates’ end-of-life decision-making.

“This last year was a transition period with moving into the new building,” Noebes said. “We’ve been trying to make it a space for everyone and I think this upcoming year everyone will feel at home.”

The new board will begin the transition process March 24 to take the reins in the summer.

 

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Sampaio Discusses Environmental Challenges Facing Metropolitan Growth Management http://law.gsu.edu/2017/01/31/visiting-professor-discusses-environmental-challenges-facing-metropolitan-growth-management/ Tue, 31 Jan 2017 20:20:51 +0000 http://law.gsu.edu/?p=201234 Visiting Professor Romulo Sampaio presented Relevant Regulatory Issues Regarding Public Parks Management, as part of the Urban Fellows Program on Jan. 31. He discussed an ongoing case study of Flamengo Park, Rio de Janeiro’s largest urban park, and the legal solutions being developed to create a financially sustainable park.

“Providing students with an opportunity… more »

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Visiting Professor Romulo Sampaio presented Relevant Regulatory Issues Regarding Public Parks Management, as part of the Urban Fellows Program on Jan. 31. He discussed an ongoing case study of Flamengo Park, Rio de Janeiro’s largest urban park, and the legal solutions being developed to create a financially sustainable park.

“Providing students with an opportunity to learn how other countries tackle similar urban issues prepares students think critically and be innovative as practitioners, a core component of our Center’s mission,” said Karen Johnston (J.D. ’08), assistant director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth.

Sampaio was a visiting professor in the International Perspectives on Urban Law & Policy course in January, focusing his lectures on the environmental challenges facing metropolitan growth management in Brazil, policy tools for sustainable land-use management, biodiversity conservation, and conservation practices.

This is Professor Sampaio’s sixth time teaching the course sponsored by the Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth, in which distinguished scholars from around the world lead small, focused seminars about land-use planning and environmental law in their countries.

Sampaio also played a major role in Georgia State Law’s past study abroad programs in Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba, Brazil.

He is a founding partner of the environmental law firm Reis & Sampaio LLP in Rio de Janeiro and on the faculty of Getulio Vargas Foundation School of Law in Rio, one of Brazil’s most prestigious academic institutions. He holds a doctorate and master’s degree in Environmental Law from Pace University School of Law and a master of laws in economic and social law and LL.B. from Pontific Catholic University of Paraná Law School.

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Metro Growth Center’s New Brochure http://law.gsu.edu/2017/01/18/metro-growth-centers-new-brochure/ Wed, 18 Jan 2017 19:38:48 +0000 http://law.gsu.edu/?p=199391 The Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth has a new brochure, providing an updated look at all of the Center’s programming.  Learn more about our professional development opportunities and student programming by viewing our new brochure.

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The Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth has a new brochure, providing an updated look at all of the Center’s programming.  Learn more about our professional development opportunities and student programming by viewing our new brochure.

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Todres: Six Ways We Can Combat Human Trafficking http://law.gsu.edu/2017/01/11/six-ways-can-combat-human-trafficking/ Wed, 11 Jan 2017 19:37:35 +0000 http://law.gsu.edu/?p=198334 Jan. 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Human trafficking’s toll is immense, says Jonathan Todres, professor of law and a leading expert on human trafficking. Based on his extensive research, he offers several key insights:

Despite growing awareness of the problem, many… more »

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Jonathan Todres

Human trafficking’s toll is immense, says Jonathan Todres, professor of law and a leading expert on human trafficking. Based on his extensive research, he offers several key insights:

Jan. 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Human trafficking’s toll is immense, says Jonathan Todres, professor of law and a leading expert on human trafficking. Based on his extensive research, he offers several key insights:

  • Despite growing awareness of the problem, many popular misconceptions about human trafficking persist, and these misunderstandings can result in overlooking many victims. Learn more>>
  • We cannot prosecute our way out of this problem. Law enforcement is essential, but it’ll take a multi-sector response to reduce the prevalence of human trafficking.
  • Prevention must be a higher priority. We need to address the root causes of why certain individuals are vulnerable to exploitation. That requires collaboration across many sectors, including education, health care, social services, and more.
  • A public health approach offers valuable tools to address human trafficking, given its emphasis on prevention, evidence-based research, and addressing harmful attitudes and behaviors.
  • The private sector has a pivotal role to play. It can ensure that trafficking does not occur in its own supply chains and require of its business partners that they do the same.
  • We must remember that we are all implicated by human trafficking: If you got dressed or ate today, you may have used/consumed products produced by exploited labor.

For links to Todres’ publications on human trafficking, visit: jonathantodres.com/human-trafficking. To reach Todres, email him at jtodres@gsu.edu or contact him on twitter: @jtodres.

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Learn How to Spend Spring Break Making a Difference at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, Room 246 http://law.gsu.edu/2016/12/31/learn-spend-spring-break-making-difference-5-p-m-info-session-wednesday-jan-18-room-246/ Sat, 31 Dec 2016 21:38:37 +0000 http://law.gsu.edu/?p=193459 The Center for Access to Justice is organizing two alternative spring break trips: one in Atlanta, with a focus on housing law, and a second in Jackson, Mississippi, with a focus on court-watching in state criminal court.

Information Session When: 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18 Where: Room 246 Dinner: Pizza provided

Interested? Attend an… more »

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The Center for Access to Justice is organizing two alternative spring break trips: one in Atlanta, with a focus on housing law, and a second in Jackson, Mississippi, with a focus on court-watching in state criminal court.

Information Session

  • When: 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18
  • Where: Room 246
  • Dinner: Pizza provided

Interested? Attend an information session at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan.18, in Room 246. Pizza provided.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27.

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Bliss Teaches Importance of Clinical Legal Education and Access to Justice in India http://law.gsu.edu/2016/12/09/bliss-teaches-importance-clinical-legal-education-access-justice-india/ Fri, 09 Dec 2016 19:30:03 +0000 http://law.gsu.edu/?p=196581 Lisa Radtke Bliss, clinical professor, associate dean of experiential education and co-director of the Health Law Partnership (HeLP) Legal Services Clinic, traveled to India in November to teach the course, “Clinical Legal Education and Access to Justice,” at National Law University, Delhi (NLU).

“I taught NLU students about access… more »

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Lisa Radtke Bliss, clinical professor, associate dean of experiential education and co-director of the Health Law Partnership (HeLP) Legal Services Clinic, traveled to India in November to teach the course, “Clinical Legal Education and Access to Justice,” at National Law University, Delhi (NLU).

“I taught NLU students about access to justice issues and clinical education methods, and, they taught me about their legal education and justice system,” Bliss said. “We worked together to understand where we had things in common and how different ideas about clinical education can be applied to specific issues that are being faced by populations in India who are most in need of help.”

The course explored various forms of clinical legal education and how it can support students’ development as professionals. Bliss also explained the impact clinical education can have on society’s future through improving access to justice and building a network of ethical, competent and professional lawyers.

During the course, Bliss outlined the models of clinical education most suitable to India’s legal and legal education systems. Students participated in activities to learn how law clinics can be responsive to the justice needs in their communities and designed different models of community education and service clinics to help address those needs.

“At the end of each day, students shared their takeaways and how they expected to apply those lessons in practice,” Bliss said. “One of the things they found most beneficial was the course’s experiential format approach to teaching interviewing skills and techniques. The expressed how important and necessary those skills will be in their roles as professionals.”

The course was funded by India’s government and organized through the Ministry of Human Resource Development and Global Initiative for Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education. GIAN is a program that invites global academic and industry experts to share their expertise and experiences to help enhance academic resources in India and address issues facing Indian communities.

Bharti Yadav, assistant professor at NLU, Delhi, invited Bliss to teach the course because of her vast experience promoting access to justice and clinical legal education through Georgia State Law clinics and experiential programs. The course was open to students from NLU, Delhi and other universities.

“Students had a very enriching experience in Professor Bliss’ class. It broadened their understanding of access to justice and how clinical legal education can be practiced in law school,” Yadav said. “And, they benefitted from the valuable inputs and suggestions she gave.”

On the last day of the course, Bliss’ students taught her a few things as they discussed the differences and similarities between India and the United States over a traditional Indian lunch.

“We enjoyed talking about our cultures. We shared our favorite Netflix shows, and I surprised them by my love for spicy things,” she said. “They made a poster for me with messages of appreciation, and we took some silly photos to celebrate our time together. They also asked who my favorite student was, which made me laugh. Even though I had a long journey home, I smiled the whole way.”

Bliss’ visit coincided with the Indian holiday Diwali, known as the Hindu festival of lights, which celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. Traditions during the five-day celebration include exchanging sweets and gifts, lighting candles, called diyas, decorating homes with colorful lights and rangoli – patterns created with flower petals, colored rice or powder – and large fireworks displays.

“While there are many festivals in India, this one is particularly special and widely celebrated with many traditions,” Bliss said. “I was privileged to spend the holiday with Professor Yadav and participated in her family’s traditions. I learned so much about Indian culture. Being able to visit during Diwali and share in an Indian family’s celebration of this festival was an experience I will never forget.”

Bliss says that each experience she has teaching and presenting abroad informs her research and scholarship, which she finds important for fellow professors and Georgia State Law.

“International faculty exchange programs help Georgia State Law establish relationships that further the education, research and scholarship of our students and faculty,” Bliss said. “It is through these opportunities that we develop our global knowledge. For law professors, it is particularly important, because not only are we focusing on research, we are also increasing the exchange of knowledge about law, legal systems and justice.”

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Supreme Court Should Remain at Eight Justices, Segall Tells Board of Visitors http://law.gsu.edu/2016/12/07/supreme-court-remain-eight-justices-segall-tells-board-visitors/ Wed, 07 Dec 2016 20:58:47 +0000 http://law.gsu.edu/?p=196744 Eric Segall, the Kathy and Lawrence Ashe Professor of Law, presented his “wild and crazy idea” for the U.S. Supreme Court during the Holiday Luncheon for the Georgia State Law Board of Visitors and Law Alumni Council on Dec. 6. Segall posits that the Court should only have eight justices, evenly divided between… more »

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Eric Segall

“When the Court is evenly divided it’s going to do less, and that is a really good thing because in every Constitutional law case ever decided by the Supreme Court, the bottom line is, should five or more of nine judges in Washington, D.C., impose a national rule on everybody else?” said Eric Segall, Kathy and Lawrence Ashe Professor of Law.

Eric Segall, the Kathy and Lawrence Ashe Professor of Law, presented his “wild and crazy idea” for the U.S. Supreme Court during the Holiday Luncheon for the Georgia State Law Board of Visitors and Law Alumni Council on Dec. 6. Segall posits that the Court should only have eight justices, evenly divided between conservatives and liberals, as it is now.

“When the Court is evenly divided it’s going to do less, and that is a really good thing because in every Constitutional law case ever decided by the Supreme Court, the bottom line is, should five or more of nine judges in Washington, D.C., impose a national rule on everybody else?” he said.

Having eight justices since the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia and the Republican senators’ refusal to confirm President Obama’s pick has resulted in a Court that took less cases, was more centrist and had more stalemates, Segall said. “There was more agony or angst, and that’s what they should have given their job descriptions,” he said.

Segall doesn’t believe the Supreme Court justices should have life tenure. “When should five or more idealogically aligned, unelected, life-tenured judges in Washington, D.C., affect our country dramatically for a generation or more? The answer should be almost never. But it has.”

One example is when the Supreme Court struck down more than 200 laws dealing with workplace safety, unions, minimum wage and overtime between 1900-1936. It set the country back for a long time, Segall said.

“Almost every one of those laws would be constitutional today,” he said. “And, they did it not because there were clear violations of the Constitution; they did it because they could.”

However, given that it would take a constitutional amendment to change appointments of life tenure, Segall believes his proposal would at least make it more difficult for five justices to impose their platform for decades.

“The political makeup of the most powerful court in the world is decided by luck, death and politically-timed retirements and that is insane,” he said. “But if it’s always four and four, then the downsides of life tenure become reduced significantly.”

With four Republicans and four Democrats on the bench, by definition at least one justice has to vote with the opposite party to decide a case, he said. Knowing that the Court will always be evenly split along ideological lines will force the justices to have more consensus in decisions.

“That kind of bipartisan agreement is good symbolically, it’s good for the country, and it’s a great moment in history for us to say to this institution, if you’re going to act, you have to act with at least one bipartisan vote,” Segall said.

This will decrease the amount of backlash from some rulings, Segall said. “I think the American people will accept decisions better if they know there is some bipartisan agreement among the justices.”

Further, a Republican president may have to appoint a Democratic justice and vice versa, which will result in more moderate justices, he said.

Under his proposal, which would result in the Supreme Court “doing less” and thus imposing less rulings, would the lack of uniformity cause chaos? Segall thinks not. The Court only takes about 75 cases a year and of those, only about 20 percent result in a 5-4 decision, he said. The overwhelming majority of state and federal cases never get to the Supreme Court.

“If it’s not clear there should be a national rule, there shouldn’t be a national rule. Would there be a few cases where uniformity is drastically important? Maybe. But at the end of the day, if our country is riding on a question of uniformity, [the Supreme Court justices] will find a way. If we absolutely must have a national rule, they will find a way. And under my proposal they will find a way more narrowly and with more consensus, and the American people will buy in.”

A Recent Podcast with Indiana Public Radio>>

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Forensic Evidence Largely Not Supported by Sound Science – Now What? http://law.gsu.edu/2016/12/07/forensic-evidence-largely-not-supported-sound-science-now/ Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:30:43 +0000 http://law.gsu.edu/?p=196861 Forensic science has become a mainstay of many a TV drama, and it’s just as important in real-life criminal trials. Drawing on biology, chemistry, genetics, medicine and psychology, forensic evidence helps answer questions in the legal system. Often, forensics provides the “smoking gun” that links a perpetrator to the crime and ultimately puts the bad… more »

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Forensic science has become a mainstay of many a TV drama, and it’s just as important in real-life criminal trials. Drawing on biology, chemistry, genetics, medicine and psychology, forensic evidence helps answer questions in the legal system. Often, forensics provides the “smoking gun” that links a perpetrator to the crime and ultimately puts the bad guy in jail.

Shows like “CSI,” “Forensic Files” and “NCIS” cause viewers to be more accepting of forensic evidence. As it’s risen to ubiquitous celebrity status, forensic science has become shrouded in a cloak of infallibility and certainty in the public’s imagination. It seems to provide definitive answers. Forensics feels scientific and impartial as a courtroom weighs a defendant’s possible guilt – looking for proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

But the faith the public and the criminal justice system place in forensic science far outpaces the amount of trust it deserves.

For decades, there have been concerns about how the legal system uses forensic science. A groundbreaking 2009 report from the National Academy of Sciences finally drew the curtain back to reveal that the wizardry of forensics was more art than science. The report assessed forensic science’s methods and developed recommendations to increase validity and reliability among many of its disciplines.

These became the catalyst that finally forced the federal government to devote serious resources and dollars to an effort to more firmly ground forensic disciplines in science. After that, governmental agencies, forensic science committees and even the Department of Defense responded to the call. Research to this end now receives approximately US$13.4 million per year, but the money may not be enough to prevent bad science from finding its way into courtrooms.

This fall, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released its own report on forensic science. It’s a more pronounced acknowledgment that the discipline has serious problems that require urgent attention. Some scientific and legal groups are outraged by or doubtful of its conclusions; others have praised them.

As someone who has taught forensic evidence for a decade and dedicated my legal career to working on cases involving forensic science (both good and bad), I read the report as a call to address foundational issues within forensic disciplines and add oversight to the way forensic science is ultimately employed by the end user: the criminal justice system.

Is any forensic science valid?

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology recognized ongoing efforts to improve forensic science in the wake of the 2009 NAS report. Those efforts focused on policy, best practices and research around forensic science, but, as with any huge undertaking, there were gaps. As PCAST noted, forensic science has a validity problem that is in desperate need of attention.

PCAST focused on what’s colloquially termed “pattern identification evidence” – it requires an examiner to visually compare a crime scene sample to a known sample. PCAST’s big question: Are DNA analysis, bite marks, latent fingerprints, firearms identification and footwear analysis supported by reproducible research, and thus, reliable evidence?

What does a firing pin indentation on a bullet really tell us?
Macroscopic Solutions, CC BY-NC

They were looking for two types of validity. According to PCAST, foundational validity means the forensic discipline is based on research and studies that are “repeatable, reproducible, and accurate,” and therefore reliable. The next step is applied validity, meaning the method is “reliably applied in practice.” In other words, for a forensic discipline to produce valid evidence for use in court, there must be (1) reproducible studies on its accuracy and (2) a method used by examiners that is reproducible and accurate.

Among the forensic science they assessed, PCAST found single-sourced DNA analysis to be the only discipline that was valid, both foundationally and as applied. They found DNA mixture evidence – when DNA from more than one person is in a sample, for instance from the victim and the perpetrator, multiple perpetrators or due to contamination – to be only foundationally valid. Same with fingerprint analysis.

Firearms identification had just the potential for foundational validity, but the research that could support it hasn’t been done yet. Footwear analysis lacked studies even showing potential for foundational validity. And bite mark analysis has a low chance of achieving any validity; the PCAST report advised “against devoting significant resources” to it.

All these types of evidence are widely used in thousands of trials each year. Many additional cases never even go to trial because this supposedly definitive evidence seems damning and compels defendants to plead guilty. But the lack of reliable science supporting these disciplines undermines the evidence which, in turn, undermines criminal convictions.

Risks of lacking validity

When forensic methods are not validated but nevertheless perceived as reliable, wrongful convictions happen.

For example, the field of forensic odontology presumes that everyone has a unique bite mark. But there’s no scientific basis for this assumption. A 2010 study of bite marks from known biters showed that skin deformations distort bite marks so severely that current methods of analysis could not accurately include or exclude a person based on the pattern left by their teeth.

In 1986, Bennie Starks was convicted of rape and other crimes after forensic odontology experts testified he was the source of a bite mark on the victim. In 2006, DNA test results showed Starks could not have been the perpetrator. Starks spent 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit because of faulty evidence from an unreliable discipline. More recently, the Texas Forensic Science Commission recommended a flat-out ban on bite mark evidence.

What happens if the forensic evidence that convicted you is flimsy?
West Midlands Police, CC BY-SA

Like in Starks’ case, questionable forensic evidence plays a significant role in at least half of overturned convictions, according to the Innocence Project. Once a verdict comes in, it becomes a Sisyphean task to undo it – even if newly discovered evidence undermines the original conviction. It’s next to impossible for people once convicted to get their cases reconsidered.

At the moment, only two states (Texas and California) permit a defendant to appeal a conviction if the scientific evidence or the expert who testified is later discredited. More laws like these are needed, but it’s politically a hard sell to grant more rights and avenues of appeal to convicts. So even if the science is undermined or completely discredited, a prisoner is often at the mercy of a court as it decides whether to grant or deny an appeal.

What should be admissible?

The PCAST report recommended judges consider both the foundational and applied validity of the forensic discipline that produced any evidence before admitting expert testimony. This includes ensuring experts testify to the limitations of the analysis and evidence. For example, the justice system traditionally considers fingerprint evidence as an “identification” – for instance, the thumbprint recovered from the crime scene was made by the defendant’s thumb. No one ever testifies that there are little scientific data establishing that fingerprints are unique to individuals. The same holds true for other types of pattern identification evidence such as firearms, toolmarks and tire treads.

The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) was critical of the PCAST report. It countered that there actually is scientific data validating these forensic fields, but members of PCAST did not adequately consult subject-matter experts. The NDAA also worried that if courts required stronger scientific validity before allowing evidence into court, it would hamstring the entire investigative process.

The NDAA concluded that judges should continue to be the ones who decide what makes evidence reliable and thus admissible. It asserted that the stringent requirements to become expert witnesses, along with the ability to cross-examine them in court, are enough to guarantee reliable and admissible evidence.

But should the admissibility of scientific processes – which ought to be grounded in their proven ability to produce reliable evidence – be determined by people who lack scientific backgrounds? I would argue no.

Pattern identification evidence shouldn’t be excluded from cases wholesale, but forensic evidence needs to be placed into context. When the human eye is the primary instrument of analysis, the court, the attorneys and the jury should be fully aware that certainty is unattainable, human error is possible, and subjectivity is inherent.

Reliance upon the adversary system to prevent wrongful convictions and weed out junk science requires a leap of faith that ultimately undermines the integrity of the criminal justice system. Counting on cross-examination as an effective substitute for scientific rigor and research can’t be the answer (although it has been for more than a century).

The PCAST report is yet another wake-up call for the criminal justice system to correct the shortcomings of forensic science. We demand that guilt be proven beyond a reasonable doubt; we should also demand accurate and reliable forensics. Without improvement, we can’t trust forensic science to promote justice.

The ConversationJessica Gabel Cino is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Law. She also serves on the American Academy of Forensic Science’s Standards Boards for DNA and fingerprints.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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IP LawMeet Team Advances to National Competition http://law.gsu.edu/2016/11/02/ip-lawmeet-team-advances-national-competition/ Wed, 02 Nov 2016 20:09:59 +0000 http://law.gsu.edu/?p=191567 The Georgia State Law Intellectual Property (IP) moot court team won best draft and best team at the Eastern Regional IP LawMeet competition on Oct. 21. They also were selected to compete in the National Rounds, held virtually Nov. 4.

As part of the competition, Steven Williams (J.D. ’17), Seth Meyerson (J.D. ’17)… more »

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IP LawMeet team

Steven Williams (J.D. ’17), Seth Meyerson (J.D. ’17) and Mitchell Foley (J.D. ’17) drafted and negotiated a software development, license and hosting agreement between an education technology company and a company providing training solutions for home health aides. They were coached by Elizabeth Lester (J.D. ’05).

The Georgia State Law Intellectual Property (IP) moot court team won best draft and best team at the Eastern Regional IP LawMeet competition on Oct. 21. They also were selected to compete in the National Rounds, held virtually Nov. 4.

As part of the competition, Steven Williams (J.D. ’17), Seth Meyerson (J.D. ’17) and Mitchell Foley (J.D. ’17) drafted and negotiated a software development, license and hosting agreement between an education technology company and a company providing training solutions for home health aides.

A total of 24 teams competed in three regional competitions. For the national competition, the Georgia State Law team will compete against teams from Charlotte Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School, University of Mississippi School of Law, University of Colorado Law School and Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law.

Elizabeth Lester (J.D. ’05) and David Pierce (J.D. ’16) coached the teams. Faculty adviser Anne Tucker and professors Yaniv Heled, Jack Williams, Michael Landau and Robert Weber consulted with the team to help them prepare. Lester traveled with the group to the competition in New York City.

“We had lots of help and our success was largely due to hard work and getting feedback and ideas from experts,” Meyerson said. “In addition to our coaches, our professors helped us craft creative approaches that allowed a win for our client and our negotiating partners.”

Williams said it felt satisfying earning top recognition in regionals, and the team is focused on delivering strong performance at the national competition.

“After working so hard on the competition, it is nice to bring home to Georgia State Law top honors,” Williams said. “We’re going to stick to the script for nationals. The team has developed solid negotiation skills and knows the agreement backward and forward. We received feedback from judges and exchanged ideas with other participants that will be helpful in drafting our strongest agreement going into the competition.”

Drexel University law professor Karl Okamoto founded LawMeets in 2010 as a way to deliver practical skills exercises to students interested in transactional law. LawMeets organized the first IP competition in 2011.

 

 

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