Articles Posted in Science and Technology

November 12. 2010 is the twentieth anniversary of a research proposal that is remaking our world. As Ben Zimmer tells it in his November 14 On Language column, WWW: The 20th Anniversary of a Research Proposal That Remande the Language in the New York Times, Tim Berners-Lee, a British software programmer working at CERN outside Geneva, was attempting to “sketch out a global system for sharing information over the Internet. After submitting a document in 1989 on the topic which generated little interest, Berners-Lee tried again in 1990, collaborating with a Belgian engineer Robert Cailliau. It was this paper, WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a Hyper Text Project, submitted on November 12, 2010, that is the true basis of the World Wide Web as we know of it today. There are a number of articles, papers, and media events commemorating this seminal event, but for a quick read that is also informative, Mr. Zimmer’s colum in the Sunday November 14, 2010 New York Times comes highly recommended.

David Badertscher

A program presented by the state trial judges during the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association in San Francisco at the Marriott Marquis On August 5, from 1:30-4:30 p.m..

Attendees registered for the 2010 ABA Annual Meeting are invited to join the National Conference of State Trial Judges for an in-depth look at search and seizure of digital evidence and the Fourth Amendment implications. This program is designed to provide an understanding of the sources and types of digital evidence encountered in modern litigation, including the introduction of meta data; examine the approaches courts take to address the search and seizure of digital evidence; explore cutting-edge issues such as search and seizure considerations with cell phones, e-mails, virtual worlds, and the like; and discuss judicial management of cyber-crime cases.

The program will end with a final segment titled “Technology Tools for Judges,” that focuses on digital tools available for judges to use while dealing with electronic documents and data, and metadata, now so prevalent in the courts. Participants will learn the components of Knowledge Management systems, how security issues have been treated, and the relative merits of generic search systems vs. legalspecific systems.

David Badertscher*

Some jurors have always had an urge to visit a crime scene or research a case they’re considering while on jury duty, but now the Internet is making it much easier to play detective.

“As simple as it might have been to research facts on their own in the past, now jurors don’t have to have a brother-in-law who’s a doctor or a next-door neighbor who’s a dentist. Everyone has access to the world of doctors and dentists,” says Laura A. Miller, the chair of the criminal litigation section of the American Bar Association and a partner at Nixon Peabody.

Jurimetrics, The Journal of Law, Science and Technology (ISBN 0897-1277), published quarterly, is the journal of the American Bar Association, Section of Seience & Technology law and the Center for Study of Law, Science and Technology of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University. It was first published in 1959 under the leadership of Layman Allen as Modern Uses of Logic in Law (MULL). A former name, Jurimetrics Journal, was adopted in 1966. The current name was adopted in 1978. Until now Jurimetrics has been published and distributed in hard copy. Soon ( beginning with the Winter 2010 issue) Jurimetrics will be electronic only.

According to the American Bar Association, here is how this works: Subscribers will receive an e-mail message letting them know when a new issue is available. That e-mail will include a link to a Web site where subscribers can lood at all of the abstracts and then download-or print out-any of the articles they want to read in PDF format.

The electronic version will be fully searchable, so subscribers can scan Jurimetrics for topics that are of interest. According to ABA this enhanced format also means that subscribers can be provided with more articles, “packed with more information–and get them to you much faster.”

David Badertscher
Legal experts and prosecutors are quite concerned about possible results of the June 25, 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts 07-591. In this decision the Court has ruled that forensic analysts conducting tests must be in court to testify about their test results and that lab sheets that identify a substance as a narcotic, or breath test printouts describing a suspect’s blood-alcohol level are no longer to be considered as sufficient evidence. A person is now required to be in court to talk about the test results. The basic question the Supreme Court addressed in this opinion was: “Is a state forensic analyst’s laboratory report prepared for use in a criminal prosecution “testimonial” evidence subject to the demands of the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause as set forth in Crawford v. Washington?”* In its ruling the Supreme Court answered, yes.
_________________________ *The above quote was taken from discussion of this opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court Oyez website at. . This site also includes links to the text of the opinion as well at to the Syllabus, dissent, concurrance, and argument. For additional information see discussion in a July 15, 2009 Washington Post article by Tom Jackman, and follow the link on the U.S. Supreme Court website.


It’s easier to solve crime today than it was 50 years ago, because of the advances that have been made in the field of science, or to be more specific, forensic science. In fact, new and innovative crime solving techniques are being introduced by the day to help law enforcement officers solve cases that are baffling at first. If we took a long and hard look at the role that forensics play in the fields of criminal law and justice, we would see how important it is in solving crime because:

It helps establish the nature of the crime: There are some crimes that are accidents and others that are by design. Looking at the evidence through a forensic microscope allows cops and others in the law enforcement area to determine if the crime was a murder, suicide or other form of accidental death. In the case of a murder, forensic evidence tells them if the crime was accidental or carried out in cold blood. Forensic science is also used to investigate and solve burglaries, drug offenses, arsons and automobile accidents.

The following is an announcement from Luis Villa, the outgoing Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Science and Technology Law Review (STLR). Beginning with Volume X STLR will become a “formal open access journal and comply with the recent Durham Statement on open access” and will become the first Columbia journal to publish through the Columbia University Library’s archival quality Academic Commons publication system:


Most of you know me from past ventures; for those who don’t, my apologies for reaching out to you in this manner, but it is a one-time event that I hope you’ll find it worth your attention.

While most agree that forensic science is a critical element of the criminal justice system, there are increasing expressions of concern as to whether it is becoming fragmanted, less reliable, and urgently needs an infusion of financial and research support in order to remain viable.

These and related concerns have been discussed in a variety of books, journals as well as the web media. Of particular interest to many is the National Academy of Sciences Report on Forensics which addresses directly many of the points mentioned above. While I cannot link directly to that Report here I can link to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) catalog where you can purchase a copy: . There may be a free summary available at that site. The NAS Report is also discussed in some depth in an American Judicature Society Editorial at Also recommended is the Comments on the Release of the NAS Report on Forensic Sciences by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD).

Recognizing the growing concern and importane of viable forensics, the New York Times has devoted most of the Science Section of its May 12, 2009 issue to what it calls the “New Forensics”. This issue contains a wide selection of articles addressing various aspects of forensic science as related to criminal justice. Links to a few are included in the listings below:”


60 Minutes to Report on Eyewitness Identification Reform

The CBS News show, 60 Minutes will air a two-segment report on Eyewitness Identification Reform on Sunday, March 8, 2009, at 7pm EST.