Crime Scene Investigator Network

Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter

APRIL 2016

Welcome to the April 2016 Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter

Legal Considerations

Bob McMicken

  • Forensic - Pertaining to matters at issue before a court of law.
  • Photography - Literally, painting with light.
  • Forensic Photography - Photographs intended to be used as evidence in a civil or criminal trial.

Demonstrative versus Substantive Evidence

Demonstrative evidence like photographs, models, charts and visual aids are generally presented to help a witness explain what he or she saw at the scene when the scene was in original, as found, condition.

Substantive evidence is physical evidence collected at the scene and brought into the courtroom where the item itself can be shown to the jury. A photo can become substantive evidence when the physical evidence cannot be brought into the courtroom for one reason or another.

Demonstrative or substantive, the prosecutor must lay a foundation before photos can be admitted into evidence. Before the photos can be shown to the jury, the defense has an opportunity to challenge their authenticity, relevance and probative value. The judge must decide whether the photo is relevant to the matter at issue and not unduly prejudicial before it can be shown to the jury.

Fair and Accurate

A photograph can be challenged on the grounds that it is not a fair and accurate representation of the thing or place that it is supposed to represent. See for a list of all the issues that can enter into arguments concerning "fair and accurate."

Adversarial System

A smart attorney never asks a question unless he or she already knows the answer. There are some fairly dumb attorneys but that's another story.

The prosecutor is an advocate for the victim, asking questions in a manner calculated to convince the jury that the defendant did the dirty deed and was caught fair and square.

The defense attorney is an advocate for the accused. It's his job to ask questions calculated to create an element of doubt, often by suggesting that the arrest was based on incompetence, stupidity, malfeasance and chicanery. The defense is entitled to a list of prosecution witnesses and copies of their reports and any photos that they might have taken.

Police officers, crime scene investigators, evidence technicians and medical personnel are supposed to be impartial witnesses without any interest in the proceedings beyond relating what they have seen and what has been related to them by credible individuals with first-hand knowledge.

Horrible miscarriages of justice have occurred when police and prosecutors ignore exculpatory evidence or rely on questionable identifications, often for reasons that defy rational explanation.

Prejudicial and Inflammatory

A judge will exclude photos likely to upset jurors. Dr. Patrick Besant-Matthews has hundreds of slides retrieved from morgue garbage cans so disgusting that they could not possibly be used in court.

< read the complete article >

*Article submitted by the author

This Month's Featured Resource on the Crime Scene Investigator Network Website

This revised and updated edition is the result of a collaborative effort to present the most up-to-date information about the issues confronting death investigators today. The death investigator is the eyes and ears of the forensic pathologist at the scene. It is hoped that these guidelines, reflecting the best practices of the forensic community, will serve as a national standard.

<View the Publication>

Featured Video Presentation
On our Video Presentations page:

Photographing Footwear Impressions

Learn the basic technique for photographing footwear impressions.

<Video Presentations>

New CSI and Forensic Job Announcements

The most comprehensive listing of Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic
employment opportunities on the internet! We typically have over 400 current listings!

To be notified of job openings as they are posted, follow us on Twitter: Job Posting Alerts
or sign up for daily email alerts: Daily Job Posting Alert Emails

Crime Scene Specialist II/III
Albuquerque Police Department, New Mexico, USA

Final Filing Date: April 22, 2016
Identify, document, collect and preserve physical evidence in the field. Ensure the preservation of all items taken into evidence. Testify in court regarding the chain of custody and integrity of evidence.
<View complete job listing>
Photo Technician III
Cook County Medical Examiner, Illinois, USA

Final Filing Date: April 20, 2016
photographs autopsies including external and internal injuries, projectiles (i.e.; bullets) removed during an autopsy and related objects or clothing. Responsible for photographing crime scenes and exhumations. Assists in photographic documentation of mass disasters. ...
<View complete job listing>
Forensic Scientist II
City of Phoenix Police Department, Arizona, USA

Final Filing Date: Open until filled
Forensic Scientists apply the physical sciences to the investigation of crimes by performing laboratory analyses on physical evidence. Incumbents could work in various facets of this classification.
<View complete job listing>
Computer Forensic Analyst
City of Covington Police Department, Kentucky, USA

Final Filing Date: Open until filled
The CFA shall be responsible for collecting, receiving, and analyzing a myriad of electronic devices in the custody of the department. ...
<View complete job listing>
Evidence Custodian
City of Albemarle Police Department, North Carolina, USA

Final Filing Date: April 22, 2016
Work includes the receipt, storage, control, and custody of all police evidence/found property.
<View complete job listing>
Community Service Officer
Elk Grove Police Department, California, USA

Final Filing Date: Open until filled
Processes crime scenes for potential evidence; identifies, documents, photographs, preserves, collects and books evidence; dusts for, collects, and books latent fingerprints; photographs and takes measurements of traffic collision scenes; responds to scenes with officers for photographing victims or processing evidence when Forensic Technician is unavailable. ...
<View complete job listing>

Search for more job listings in Crime Scene Investigations and Forensics
<Crime Scene Investigator Network Employment Listings>

To be notified of job openings as they are posted, follow us on Twitter: Job Posting Alerts
or sign up for daily email alerts: Daily Job Posting Alert Emails

CSI in the News

CSI for Animals: Forensic Vets Battle Pet Abuse, Neglect
The New York-based nonprofit has a team of three forensic vets dedicated to capturing evidence to punish animal abusers - their jobs include traveling to crime scenes and working with the New York Police Department in a new partnership that has seen cruelty-related arrests doubled in the past two years.
ABC News - COLLEEN LONG - April 12, 2016

Behind the Scenes: How forensic scientists fight crime by analyzing handwriting
"Some things that are significant or what to evaluate in signatures. What kind of handwriting characteristics to look at." He fights crime one word at a time and brings those to justice who could otherwise be written off. "I think it's very important from those threat letters, harassing letters, bank robbery notes, to even for example these financial crimes,"
Q12 Fox TV - PARELLA LEWIS - April 8, 2016

This N.J. State Police lab brings the unidentified dead to life
The forensic anthropologist works in a tiny two-person laboratory at the State Police's technology center in Hamilton, trying to link names to piles of bone and bits of flesh by examining their markings, testing their DNA and meticulously documenting their quirks and features in missing and unidentified persons databases, searching for a match. - S.P. Sullivan - April 8, 2016

90-Minute DNA testing kit receives FBI approval
This is the FBI's first approval of such a system. It is unclear to what extent FBI labs will use the NetBio technology. But by allowing crime laboratories to obtain a full DNA profile in less than two hours, the approval could mean a breakthrough in the field of forensic analysis, said Richard Selden, chief executive of NetBio.
Boston Globe - Katheleen Conti - April 7, 2016

Why don't we have the same fingerprints as other people?
It is widely accepted that fingerprints actually develop in the womb around the 10th week of pregnancy and are largely complete by around the end of the fourth month.
Pressconnects - John Brhel - April 7, 2016

Athens Police hopes DNA-generated sketch leads to serial rapist
A lab analysis of the suspect's DNA was used to create two images, showing him with and without a ball cap.
The Columbus Dispatch - Mary Beth Lane - April 7, 2016

<Read more CSI and Forensics in the News>

Other Resources on the Crime Scene Investigator Network Website
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