Current Policy Issues
Affecting Forensic Sciences
This page is intended to provide the CAC membership with important, and increasingly relevant, information regarding the National Academy of Sciences report as well as ethics-related information from throughout the field of forensic science. If you are a CAC member and you have additional information that you think should be included on this page, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated: March 11, 2014
- Documents Related to Creation of a National Structure to Oversee Forensic Science
- NIST's Proposed Structure and Function of the Forensic Science Standards Board
- Summary of the NIST Proposed Plan for the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC)
- NIST Presentation for the National Commission on Forensic Science on the Proposed OSAC Structure
- Scientific Working Group for DNA Analysis Methods FAQ Page
- ASCLD Comments: National Commission on Forensic Science
- AAFS Comments: Members of the National Commission on Forensic Science
- IAI Comments: Members of the National Commission on Forensic Science
- Names of National Commission on Forensic Science members released
NIST Presentation Detailing NCFS, Guidance Groups
A PowerPoint presentation given by Susan Ballou of NIST at the IAI meeting with information about the National Commission on Forensic Science, Guidance Groups, etc. This is posted to give our membership more information regarding these programs.
Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations, December Newsletter
This newsletter focuses on a comparison of the federal bills that exist and which may determine the oversight path that forensic science in the United States may be required to follow.
Important Discussion Regarding the Freezing of Biological Evidence Items
- NIST's "The Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook: Best Practices for Evidence Handlers"
- Page 31, CACNews Commentary by Terry Spear Regarding Handbook's Treatment of Freezing Biological Evidence
- NIST's Clarification Statement Reagrding the Freezing of Biological Evidence
CAC Response to NIST's establishment of Guidance Groups
The official position of the CAC, composed by the Board of Directors, in response to NIST's request for input regarding the structure, impact, representation, and scope of discipline-specific Guidance Groups.
CFSO Position on NIST Guidance Groups
The response of the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations (CFSO) regarding NIST's discipline-specific Guidance Groups.
ASCLD Comments to NIST Regarding Guidance Groups
Comments from the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) to NIST'regarding a proposal to create discipline-specific Guidance Groups.
Maryland v. King
June 3, 2013: United States Supreme Court, in 5-4 decision, decides that Maryland's law compelling felony arrestees to provide oral DNA samples for database entry is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment's unreasonable search and seizure provision. This decision should resolve any residual challenges to California‚Äôs Proposition 69 DNA collection program.
People v. Holmes
December 24, 2012, California Appellate Court Decision: Defendant's confrontation rights not violated when criminalists testified at trial in reliance on DNA testing they had not personally performed (Coffee, J.).
Williams v. Illinois - Analysis by DDA Michael Chamberlain
On June 18, 2012, the United States Supreme Court decided Williams v. Illinois (available at: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-8505.pdf). There had been widespread hope that Williams would bring a measure of clarity to the Supreme Court's confrontation clause jurisprudence as it relates to expert witness testimony. It did not.
AB 434, Logue. County penalties: forensic laboratories.
AB 434, crafted with the assistance of the CACLD, was recently signed into law. This law allows funds remaining in a county's DNA Identification Fund to be used to provide supplemental funding to local or state laboratories for expenses incurred in processing DNA samples. These expenses include sending casework to a private laboratory under the rules provided by Proposition 69 and the FBI CODIS guidelines. To clarify, the DNA Identification Fund money cannot be spent directly on the services of a private DNA laboratory, but can be used to reimburse a law enforcement laboratory for the costs of hiring a private laboratory.
California Bill: AB239
A bill currently making its way through the legislative process, AB239 centers around crime lab oversight and if/how it should be done.
CAC Response to AB239
The official position of the CAC, composed by the Board of Directors, in response to California's AB239.
Senator Leahy Forensic Science Bill, Revised
An updated version of Senator Leahy's Bill "To establish an Office of Forensic Science and a Forensic Science Board, to strengthen and promote confidence
in the criminal justice system by ensuring consistency and scientific validity in forensic testing, and for other purposes."
Senator Leahy Forensic Science Bill, dated 12/22/10
The bill that Senator Leahy has proposed in the United States Senate "To establish an Office of Forensic Science and a Forensic Science Board, to strengthen and promote confidence in the criminal justice system by ensuring consistency and scientific validity in forensic testing, and for other purposes."
CAC/CACLD Oversight Position Statement
The California Association of Crime Laboratory Director and the CAC Board of Directors have collaborated to produce this position statement regarding statewide oversight of forensic science. This document is dated July 28, 2010.
CAC Position Statement on Oversight
The CAC Board of Directors has released this document to state its position on possible oversight legislation. CAC members should be aware of the official CAC position on this important topic. Document is dated May 26, 2010.
U.S. Senate Draft Outline of Forensic Reform Legislation
The staff of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman has issued this document. This document is courtesy of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences website (www.aafs.org). This document is but a "draft outline", but it could represent where the legislation based on the "NAS Report" could go.
An Examination of Forensic Science in California
In November 2009, the California Crime Laboratory Review Task Force released this report. The Executive Summary includes a complete listing of the Task Force's recommendations. The full report includes background information and discussions of the recommendations; each of these recommendations reflects the consensus of the Task Force. The entire document is provided here.
NACDL Preliminary Recommendations on Strengthening Forensic Science
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is looking for input and feedback from scientists as they prepare the "Final Recommendations" that will br submitted to the NACDL Board of Directors in February, 2010. For more information, contact Jack King, (202) 872-8600 x228, email@example.com .
CAC's Reponse to the 2009 NAS Report
This is the formal response to the NAS report by the CAC, dated August 15, 2009.
NY Innocence Project's National Oversight Body Proposal
The third document is a proposal by the New York Innocence Project as to what they would like the national oversight body to "look like." They are proposing the formation of an Office of Forensic Science Improvement and Support (OFsis) in the Dept of Commerce. This would work with the NIST and NSF, & other appropriate existing federal agencies. The CAC will be responding to this with a letter in the near future.
ASCLD's Comments on the Release of the NAS Report on Forensic Science
On February 18, 2009, the National Academy of Sciences released their long anticipated report on the forensic sciences in the United States. The report, entitled "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward," will bring opportunities to make unprecedented changes to the structure and delivery of forensic sciences in the United States. The Board of Directors of American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) has had an opportunity to briefly review the extensive report and is providing some points for ASCLD members to consider.
The FBI Quality Assurance Standards Audit for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories
Effective July 1, 2009, this Audit Document defines and interprets each standard, with added discussion points clarifying the criteria necessary for compliance. Additionally, the document is structured such that criteria, which overlap between the FBI issued standards and the corresponding ASCLD/LAB elements, share a consistent interpretative view.
NAS Executive Summary - Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
This free executive summary is provided by the National Academies as part of their mission to educate the world on issues of science, engineering, and health. If you are interested in reading the full book, please visit us online at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/12589.html. You may browse and search the full, authoritative version for free.
These documents are in Portable Document Format (PDF) which allows anyone to view, save, and print it no matter which browser or computer operating system they are using. PDF files require the Adobe Acrobat Reader. For more information on Acrobat Reader, or to get it free, check out our Acrobat Reader Information page.