Week 3: Sum it up!

Week 3: Sum it up! We saw a mixed bag of information this week about cold cases, DNA, forensic labs, testing and of course, funding.

DNA was instrumental in cracking the 1994 throat slashing murder of Theresa Whetstone (Buffalo, NY) and the 1985 murder of Candace Derksen (Elmwood, Canada). At the same time, we see DNA backlogs in New Orleans affecting rape cases. We are roughly looking at 1100 untested rape kits. “Many of the untested rape kits were in the basement of Police Headquarters at the time of Hurricane Katrina, which means, many of those rape kits will be unusable.”

While New Orleans and other cities try and fight their backlogs, UK MPs consider closing the UK government-owned Forensic Science Service (FSS). Last December, the government announced that it would drop that service. FSS analyses evidence from crime scenes in England and Wales but is losing about £2m per month. “The service is regarded as a world-class organisation that has been at the forefront of innovation in forensics.” The government wants private enterprise, which makes up 40% of the market, to fill the gap left by the FSS.

Funding is also crucial to finally get answers in the case of the Waldo rapist. Police in Kansas City (Ohio) have a man in custody who is charged with four rapes that were more than two decades old. But nobody has officially labeled him the Waldo rapist. “The KCPD has a cold-case squad specifically dedicated to sex crimes. Except now, it looks like that squad is about to be the victim of a tight budget.” The department failed to win a $500,000 grant renewal to keep the squad together and active. All the cases will now be redistributed back to the officers who were in charge of the cases before the squad took over.

Paul Kennedy describes in his post “Court deems lab reports inadmissible” how lab reports are testimonial in nature meaning that the lab technician who wrote that report must appear on the stand to face the accused.

They faced accusations of the worst kind. They supposedly sexually assaulted their own daughters. Cleared by DNA these fathers, Kevin Fox and Jerry Hobbs, now fight for mandatory DNA testing and for the abolition of the death penalty in Illinois. The Illinois House’s legislature to abolish the death penalty is on Governor Quinn’s desk. No word as of yet whether the Governor will sign it.

False accusations in the Willingham case will not be retracted yet. “The Texas Forensic Science Commission  last Friday again delayed its last opinion on the merits of an arson investigation that sent Willingham to the death chamber seven years ago. At the meeting, the commissioners also decided to move forward with a draft report, but it will not touch on the questions referred to the attorney general. The next meet is on April 15.” You can watch the January 7th 2011 hearing onYouTube. Look in the right margin because there are five parts.

The Guardian’s article “The stain of complicity in torture” is chilling to the bone. “Despite the coalition agreement stating unequivocally: “We will never condone torture”, legal proceedings currently under way suggest British agents could still be guilty of complicity. The allegation is that British agents, in a more subtle crime than the actual torture conducted by American officials, benefited from the blatant violations of other states. Intelligence officials gleaned information from detainees being questioned by overseas regimes whose mistreatment and torture has been well documented.” The article has links to earlier articles on the subject.

On a lighter note, there has been turmoil in the blogosphere about labels. Those who blog about everything non-law related usually call their website a blog. Those who blog about law related issues and especially those who are lawyers by profession call their website a blawg. Get it? Law and blog = blawg. But, as Antonin Pribetic’s post indicates, there is more! In his post “My gift to the Social Media Law Marketers: The Flawg” he describes in detail the effects of social media law marketers. If you have been active on Twitter, than you know the many discussions that flow around there about the use and abuse of social media law marketers. I draw your attention to the ending of the article where flawg, flawgers and flawgosphere are defined!

There was also the question of why people blog and then give up. Is it a too demanding task? Do they expect a loyal following overnight? Are their expectations founded in reality or in dreams? The article shows you how some people started blogging and then gave up. So, now I’d like to know from my readers: if you had a blog and gave up: after what time did you gave up and why? Did statistics play a role e.g. not enough readers/views? What did you define as not enough readers? Was one hundred views per day low, acceptable or high? Did you start blogging with the expectation to get more out of it e.g. a book contract or a more prominent presence in a particular industry? If you stopped blogging, did you switch over to another medium? Just curious!

Have you heard of “Three Geeks and a Law Blog?” They describe an interesting combination of Google maps with a history pin. You check out a map and while your mouse rolls over the map, interesting law related details appear that are connected to that building or street or area. Read it, I thought it was a great idea!

New maps are also being used by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. They bring you a real time crime map on their website to arm citizens and cops with as much information. It is almost like walking a beat with a cop and seeing what goes on in your area. Check it out!

From crime mapping we jump over to mind mapping! I have added three mind maps to two cases on DCC and so far, the reactions are great. I did not know you were interested in that! You should have said something before! Mind maps are posted in the cases of Sharron Prior and Laura Henderson-Ibach. Remember that I make several maps so one map does not tell all! I will be adding mind maps as we go in these two cases and might scan in my other maps to post them as well.

I leave you with two stories:

1: the Nutmeg Lawyer’s story on “Fortune Favors and Fortune Tellers.” Fantastic!

2: the superb sense of humour of James N. Bailey who in 1974 worked as General Counsel for the Cleveland Stadium Corp. in Ohio. Sir Bailey, I salute you!

Enjoy!

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