The CSI effect – it’s still going…but changing shape?

Here is a link to an article on Stuff.co.nz today that deals with the CSI effect: TV shows having an influence on juries. As you will see, I added my two pennarth to it. In my experience over the last 12 months, as a phenomenon the CSI effect raises less questions at presentations and lectures …

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Expert evidence: can we learn from others?

One of the hardest things to do in life seems to be to learn from the mistakes of others.  For example, when learning to drive (“mirror, signal, manoeuvre” has been devised for good reason, not, as young male relatives seems to think, just so older people can tell younger people what to do and then …

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What is a standard alcoholic drink?

What IS a standard alcoholic drink?  It’s a nightmare, that’s what it is.  As a forensic alcohol toxicologist, the concept of a standard drink is somewhat arbitrary and inconsistent because the people drinking them differ in physical stature and biological processing ability so the alcohol in a standard drink contributes a different amount to people …

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Don’t forget: breath alcohol levels continue to rise after you stop drinking!

I have just been watching Campbell Live where the presenters had a two-hour lunch with alcoholic drinks and then tested themselves with a breath alcohol screening device to see how they felt to drive compared with what alcohol they had actually consumed.  This is all as a result of the government’s (good, in my opinion) …

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Filming a real murder accused’s conviction

A brief post this one about a British Channel 4 production that recorded a 6 week murder trial and its outcome: “The dramatic moment in which a man is convicted of arranging the murder of his wife and then disposing of her body will be broadcast on television next week. … A documentary crew working …

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Robin Bain finger marks

Many people may have seen 3rd Degree on Wednesday night about the marks on Robin Bain’s thumb and forefinger as recorded in two crime scene photographs. Earlier this year I spent a morning with Police and ESR staff and some of the defence team during the testing of the murder weapon by Robbie Tiffen and …

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Are all drownings accidental? Are too many fires arson?

What if not all drownings are accidental?  An ABC article asks this question and raises some interesting points about how investigators deal with bodies found on land and those found in water. “Bodies found in water are treated very differently from bodies found on land, for example there is not a county in this country …

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Teina Pora case: funding case re-investigations

You may or may not have seen 3rd Degree’s programme last night about the case of Teina Pora, a south Auckland boy imprisoned in 1994 for rape and murder, the former that DNA testing shows he did not commit and, after a retrial in 2000, for murder based on confessions. There has been comment about …

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Standards and Codes for forensic scientists

A short blog post, this one.  The US Department of Justice is setting up a commission that will establish standards, a professional code and educational requirements for forensic scientists.  Presumably this would mean that a Bachelors degree in forensic science and European film won’t make the muster (a degree which has apparently been offered in …

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Clarification: launching a charity this year

An article in the paper at the weekend indicated that I am launching a charity this year.  Just to clarify, this is not exactly the case.  What I have discussed with some senior academics and criminal legal system colleagues is possibly establishing an organisation that may consider, amongst other legal issues, potential miscarriage of justice …

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