Current Issues in Forensic Science
Science has never been more important to crime solving in the United States, with expanding crime labs, DNA databanks, and new crime scene technology. Yet never has the use of forensics been more controversial in the legal and scientific communities, with scientific reports critical of the research foundations of many forensic techniques and new Sixth Amendment and evidentiary challenges in the courts. This seminar will examine the legal, scientific, and the practical questions raised by the use of forensic evidence in our legal system, by bringing in a series of leading scholars, lawyers, and researchers to present cutting edge work (we will also visit the main Virginia crime lab and meet with its general counsel). During the semester, speakers will present their research to the seminar. The students will have written papers evaluating and critiquing the work in class the week before each speaker presents. We will discuss current legal challenges to the admissibility of forensic evidence, the constitutional regulation of forensics in the courtroom, philosophy of science, privacy issues, and research seeking to improve the uses of forensics in the lab and in the courtroom. The work of the new Forensic Science Center of Excellence will also be discussed. Interested UVA faculty from the law school, as well as statistics, psychology, and other disciplines will also attend given sessions. Students do not need a background in science and there are no prerequisites.
Final paper due via EXPO by 4:30pm on Dec. 22nd.
*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the Writing Requirement.
**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.