Science and Technology News

Friday, August 7, 2015

Department of Justice and The National Institute of Standards and Technology Name Six Experts as New Members of National Commission on Forensic Science



The Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced six appointments to the National Commission on Forensic Science.

The commission, created in 2013, develops forward-looking policy recommendations for the Attorney General to enhance the practice and improve the reliability of forensic science.

The commission is co-chaired by Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Dr. Willie E. May.  Deputy Assistant Administrator Nelson Santos of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Forensic Sciences and Special Assistant John M. Butler to the NIST Director for Forensic Science serve as vice-chairs.

“For nearly two years, the commission has been hard at work developing recommendations to strengthen the field of forensic science and the six new commissioners will bring valuable new insights to this process,” said Deputy Attorney General Yates.  “Their work is vital to ensuring the fairness of our criminal justice system.”

“Confidence in the collection, review and analysis of evidence by law enforcement and in the ability of the courts to fairly judge the strength of that evidence is the bedrock of any civil society,” said Under Secretary May.  “The new commissioners represent a diverse range of skills and training and we look forward to their contributions as we continue our efforts to ensure that the forensic evidence used in our criminal justice system is supported by rigorous science, measurements and analysis.”

The commission includes federal, state and local forensic science service providers; research scientists and academics; law enforcement officials; prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges; and other stakeholders from across the country.  This breadth of experience and expertise reflects the many different entities that contribute to forensic science practice in the United States and will ensure that these broad perspectives are represented on the commission and in its work.

The commission was established in 2013 and re-chartered for another two-year period in April 2015.  The new members announced today are replacing individuals whose tenures with the commission recently ended.  Because the re-charter includes a provision for digital evidence, an additional commissioner has been added to provide perspective in this important area of forensic science.

The new commissioners are:

    Thomas D. Albright, Ph.D., Professor and Conrad T. Prebys Chair at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California;

    Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D., Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and Alfred and Jill Summer Professor and Chair of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore;

    Gregory C. Champagne, Sheriff of St. Charles Parish, Louisiana;

    William N. Crane, Associate Professor and Director of the Champlain College Graduate Digital Forensic Program in Burlington, Vermont;

    Deirdre M. Daly, U.S. Attorney of the District of Connecticut; and

    Sunita Sah, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations at the Cornell University Johnson Graduate School of Management in Ithaca, New York.

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