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August 2018 Archives

Forensic scientists working to reform the evidence they present

Recently, about 1,400 forensic pathologists, fingerprint examiners and other crime scene investigators from across the country met in San Antonio for the International Association for Identification's annual International Educational Conference. At the top of the agenda was improving the standards for collecting, testing and presenting forensic evidence.

What are the penalties for prostitution and solicitation in Iowa?

Most people know that prostitution is basically defined as exchanging sex for money, and that it's illegal. Many also know that solicitation of prostitution is defined as asking or encouraging another person to engage in prostitution. The most common form of solicitation of prostitution is offering money in exchange for sexual acts. Promoting prostitution -- also known as pimping -- is also illegal in Iowa. What are the penalties involved?

Would the new 'pot breathalyzer' change anything in Iowa?

With marijuana now legal for either recreational or medical use in the majority of states, drugged driving appears to be on the rise. Unfortunately, there is no straightforward way to test whether someone is actually impaired by marijuana. It's easy enough to test for the drug's metabolites, but those remain in the system for weeks, while the drug's "high" only lasts for a couple of hours. Law enforcement has been seeking a so-called 'pot breathalyzer" that could test for actual impairment, not just exposure to the drug.

Iowa Supreme Court limits warrantless inventory searches of cars

"This empowerment of local law enforcement to determine the substance of Fourth Amendment protections in the context of warrantless inventory searches and seizures of automobiles is rich with irony," Justice Brent R. Appel of the Iowa Supreme Court wrote recently, "as the Fourth Amendment was explicitly designed as a bulwark to restrain law enforcement in the context of searches and seizures."

Should courts order DNA tests' source code opened to the defense?

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of criminal defendants to fully confront the witnesses and evidence against them. That includes DNA evidence, but it can be difficult to apply that right to the forensic software used to match genetic material from crime scenes to that of a defendant. Why? The software's underlying algorithms, source code, user manuals, internal validation studies and other crucial technical details are trade secrets, often owned by private companies.

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