Articles Tagged with evidence

annie-spratt-1141166-unsplash-copy-200x300As evidence mounts against the parents of AJ Freund, the media frenzy around the case casts a shadow over the possibility that the Freunds will get a fair trial. According to police, the boy’s father Drew Freund told police that he “beat” the boy and administered cold showers as punishment. The police also indicated the father led investigators to the boy’s body in a remote location in Woodstock.

Physical evidence against the father continues to pile up. This includes a shovel, soil samples linking the shovel to the burial site, muddy shoes that could link the father to the burial site, and a search he performed on his phone concerning how to perform CPR on a child.

Police Have Begun Trying This Case in the Press

rui-silvestre-703796-unsplash-copy-242x300Our criminal justice system was founded on the idea that it is better to let a man go free than to imprison him unjustly. For that reason, prosecutors are held to a very high standard of proof. In many cases, this proof is acquired using scientific means. However, sometimes these means are not so scientific and other times the methods of quality control are severely flawed.

In 2016, Judged Stuart Katz dismissed a complaint against a Chicago juvenile when fingerprint evidence was brought against him. The forensic officer involved in matching the prints was castigated in court after the Judge found a number of methodological flaws in the man’s work. The judge accused the Sergeant of being “oblivious” and “not caring about educating himself” in his own field or work. He went onto say that there appeared to be no audits or any method of verification and that they did not follow the basic procedures set forth by the FBI. The judge determined that the entire department needed to clean up its act or they would find it very difficult to enter forensic evidence into the record during future trials.

The FBI is Just as Bad

tertia-van-rensburg-37121-copy-300x224Juries in Illinois and other states have been asked to measure the reliability of latent fingerprint evidence for decades. Latent fingerprints are collected samples of hidden fingerprints in a crime scene. Examiners use them to relate with those that are known to come from recognized sources. Forensic science is crucial in examining crime and assisting in the verdict for innocence or guilt at court hearings.

Questions concerning the sufficiency of several forensic subjects are arising daily. In 2009, a report was issued by the National Research Council that claimed that most latent fingerprint analyses were scientifically unjustified. It also said that some forensic disciplines had no credibility at all.

However, many reports still regard it as scientific injustice. In 2016, a group working on latent fingerprint analysis concluded that the forensics were not justified. The groups say that such assertions have brought false convictions and arrests. The American Association for the Advancement of Science made conclusions in a report. They said latent fingerprint examiners should stop claiming concealed fingerprints come from one source. Furthermore, they should particularly stop saying they could prove as much without errors.

dan-gold-240112-copy-169x300The use of dogs for gathering police evidence has been debated at the highest levels of the criminal justice system. The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals recently considered the matter and made a ruling that could potentially have far-reaching consequences.

The key issue was the extent to which the law enforcement agencies should be able to rely on K-9 partners when making a decision as to whether to search a person or not. There are vehicle sniff directives for law enforcement agencies in place even without this trial.

In the case of Lex, the dog was not considered to be adequately trained or talented enough to be able to make a decision either way. The case was brought by Larry Bentley Jr. He had been sentenced to 20 years in jail for being found in possession of controlled substances.

joe-perales-117891-copy-300x198The practice notes for the rules of evidence remain an important cornerstone of justice in Chicago. Specifically, the court wants to hear, see, witness, and assess evidence that is accurate and timely. Without the rules of evidence, the court process is delayed, and the outcome is inevitably compromised. If we take the example of hearsay, it is clear that the courts wish to hear from the actual witnesses to a crime rather than second-hand stories that are subject to contamination, misinterpretation, and deception. Moreover, the access to direct evidence and witness testimony allows for cross-examination, an important verification and confirmatory aspect of the court process.

Defending attorneys should be well-versed in the allowable question and answer formats. It is a given that some clever lawyer somewhere is going to try to bend the rules by asking a leading or irrelevant question. The defendant must be prepared for the rigors of a cross examination. Many rape and sexual assault cases collapse for no other reason other than that the victim is unable to withstand the detailed and embarrassing process of cross-examination. The court does have decorum, but it is also not a place for false modesty. The judge and jury wish to hear things as they happened and as they relate to the charge that has been brought forward.

Facts Rule the Court