Event Calendar

Friday, November 13, 2020

Course: Exploiting Forensic Evidence’s Tenuous Link to Science

Start Date: 9/14/2020 9:00 AM EDT
End Date: 11/13/2020 6:00 PM EST

Venue Name: Online through NAPD's LMS System

Organization Name: National Association for Public Defense

Jeanie Vela
Email: jeanie.vela@publicdefenders.us
Phone: (303) 921-3736

September 14 - NOVEMBER 13, 2020
Price $275


Apply for Scholarship Here - Deadline Sept 5

The Weekly 90 minute Small Group meeting will be on
Thursdays at 3 pm Eastern / Noon Pacific

Time expectations for this course per week are
  •    Watching course videos, doing readings and assignments - 1-2 hours
  •    Weekly live instruction and small groups  -  1.5 hours
Learn more about NAPD Online Academy Courses - 10 min video
Led by Jennifer Friedman & Julia Leighton

Forensic “science” often plays a key role in criminal prosecutions. Because of the “CSI Effect” prosecutors seek out the forensic evidence jurors expect to hear. But how much science is really behind the disciplines that were developed in crime labs and not in university or medical institutions?

To appreciate the limits and weaknesses of forensic evidence we must understand the role of empirical testing and peer review in establishing the scientific validity of a particular method or technique.

In the first part of this course, using firearms comparison as the example, we will explore the building blocks of the scientific method:
• Empirical testing – what counts as testing and what doesn’t?
• Study design – what works and what doesn’t.
• Data interpretation – what’s cheating and what isn’t.
• Measurement uncertainty – nothing is certain.
• Error rates – if they get it wrong 1 in 20 tries shouldn’t the jury know that?
• Internal validation, proficiency testing and cognitive bias – is your lab doing it right?

In the second part of the course we will use this knowledge to improve your challenges to the admissibility of forensic evidence. Focusing on the admissibility standard in your jurisdiction we will:
• Articulate how foundational validity and validity as applied relate to your admissibility standard.
• Develop strategic motions.
• Develop an approach to use when interviewing an examiner
• Prepare the introduction to a motion to exclude or limit
• Learn to respond to common prosecution arguments.

Click here to see the course details and agenda.

Jennifer Friedman

Jennifer Friedman is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She was a Deputy Public Defender in Los Angeles County for 33 years and served as the Forensic Science Coordinator for the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office. She is currently a member of Federal Defender Capital Habeas Unit for the Central District of Los Angeles. Her practice has focused on litigating forensic science and expert issues. She has tried over 150 felony jury trials many of which were sexual assaults and homicides involving complex scientific issues. She writes the expert section of the California Death Penalty Manual. She is a frequent lecturer on the death penalty, challenging forensic evidence and the use of experts in the courts.

Julia Leighton
Julia Leighton is the former general counsel for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS).  In addition to her duties as general counsel, Ms. Leighton was a member of PDS’s Forensic Practice Group and was a 2001 founding member.  In 2014 Ms. Leighton was appointed by the U.S. Attorney General to the National Commission on Forensic Science and was a voting member until the Commission was sunset.  Currently she is a member of the Legal Resource Group within NIST’s forensic science standards development entity the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC).  She is a frequent case consultant and lecturer on challenging forensic evidence and the use of experts in litigation. Prior to becoming PDS’s general counsel, Ms. Leighton spent eleven years litigating criminal cases; eight years as a staff attorney at PDS, and three years as a trial attorney in the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.  Ms. Leighton received her B.A. in Economics from Bowdoin College, Magna Cum Laude, and her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, Cum Laude.


This event is full. Registrations will be added to the waiting list.

Online Registration

Registration is Closed
Closed: 9/7/2020 9:51 AM

Add to my calendar