Curious case of the vanishing court file

Many people think that, as an independent forensic scientist, my job is about science in the legal system. That would be true when I have my ‘specialist’ hat on such as when I’m doing blood or breath alcohol calculations, preparing a statement for Court or giving evidence. For the rest of my job, you’d be …

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Return of Forensic Scientist!

I read with shame that my last post was mid August.  That means it’s been four months since I last wrote a post and therefore four months where I have felt a pang of guilt on a nearly daily basis about not having written something, particularly when there was something on which I had a …

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Alcohol interlocks are coming….

I read today in my.lawsociety (NZ Law Society publication) that ordering the fitting of alcohol interlocks to vehicles owned by people convicted of drink driving is going to be an option available to the NZ courts as of 10 September this year.  An alcohol interlock operates in a similar manner to a breathalyser in that …

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Mt Tongariro: the aliens are invading

It’s volcano time again here in New Zealand: with the eruption of the andesitic Mt Tongariro in the central North Island. As a geologist (and tephrostratigrapher in times gone past) it’s exciting, but there’s always a small point (for me) that detracts from the media reporting: the plethora of ‘vulcanologists’. It would be great if …

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FBI admits flaws in forensic science evidence – how about NZ?

“The [US] Justice Department and the FBI have launched a review of thousands of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted or deserve a new trial because of flawed forensic evidence” So reads the Washington Post on July 11. The article indicates the problems with fibre and hair evidence, which are notoriously …

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NetHui and ‘trolls’

I am such an unintentional luddite.  I turned up at a conference about the internet (NetHui) and started adding things to my To Do list by using a piece of paper and a pencil, being surrounded by so many ipads, netbooks, iphones, androids and other technical gadgets that make me feel old that the air …

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On vein patterns and dead pythons – outdoor body recovery course

The Outdoor Body Recovery Course was fun.  It’s a difficult thing to say to people because how can it be fun collecting samples from unfortunate individuals who have died and whose remains are found outdoors?  It’s one of those uncomfortable  definitions of ‘fun’ that would probably be more appropriately labelled ‘rewarding’ or ‘fulfilling’.  However, on …

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Our (training) grave was robbed!!

Well, maybe, anyway.  I spent a couple of days last week in a field in Oxfordshire, England, training specialist police officers/crime scene examiners how to collect samples for soil and pollen analysis from outdoor body locations as part of criminal investigations.  My ‘crime scene’ was under a tree and involved the use of a mannequin …

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HOW much was outstanding in Legal Aid??

I read in Law Points (NZ Law Society) that Charles Chauvel asked Justice Minister Judith Collins for information on the number and value of invoices for Legal Aid payments that were awaiting payment at 30 March 2012.  This is from the Law Points article: She said invoices totalling the following for work undertaken in each …

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ID by fingerprints: not fact but opinion

Many people in New Zealand still seem unaware of the substantial shake-up going on in forensic science globally. Alot of it has come from the USA National Academy of Science’s review on forensic science. Some has come from the UK Law Commission’s review of forensic science practices. One of the many areas of interest is …

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