EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Resource of Interest: The National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology, and the Law (NCSTL) at the Stetson University College of Law

Today, I wanted to shine a light on a truly terrific resource that I use in preparing for classes, researching and writing scholarship, and updating this blog: The National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology, and the Law (NCSTL) at the Stetson University College of Law. The vision statement of the Clearinghouse is "[t]o foster communication between the scientific, technological and legal communities, resulting in awareness and understanding of the policies, interests and concerns affecting those communities." Meanwhile, its mission statement is "[t]o provide comprehensive scientific, technological and legal information, which will promote justice based on sound science and technology."

So, how does it accomplish these goals? Well, it

assembles the available scientific, technological, and relevant legal resources into a comprehensive "one-stop" searchable database with equal access for all. There are no subscription fees which makes the NCSTL database the only free compilation of forensic resources in the world.    

NCSTL seeks to promote justice by developing resources for the legal and scientific communities to provide timely, accurate and useful information. Current projects include distance education programs and training modules and primers with an emphasis on distance delivery, in-person trainings, and extended partnerships with law schools, professional agencies, and federal and state agencies.

NCSTL provides a searchable database of legal, forensic, and technology resources; a reference collection of law, science, and technology material; content-specific bibliographies; national conferences on science, technology, and the law; community acceptance panels; and training for defense counsel who are handling cases involving biological evidence on the applications and limitations of DNA evidence as stated in the President’s DNA Initiative.

In the rest of this post, I will highlight the NCSTL resources that I regularly use and some of the fine folks responsible for the NCSTL's accomplishments.

Resources:

Here are some of the NCSTL resources I regularly rely upon:

•The forensic research database: Let's say that I want a case involving fingerprints to use in my Evidence class. Or, what if I want to do a blog post about recent legislation regarding fingerprint evidence? How about some articles on fingerprint evidence to use in upcoming scholarship? The forensic research database is the best resource out there. Forget Westlaw or Lexis. With the database, there are three steps to searches: (1) Choose the topic(s) you want to search (e.g., Digital Evidence, Fingerprints, Voice Analysis); (2) Choose the resource(s) you want to search (e.g., Cases, Dissertations, Radio/TV shows); and (3) Enter keywords. You can also save your searches for later reference. This blog wouldn't be what it is without this database;

•NCSTL's Quarterly e-Newsletter: What's new and now in expert evidence? You can easily find out with NCSTL's Quarterly e-Newsletter. For instance, in this month's newsletter, NCSTL has (1) Skinner v. Switzer: The Peculiar Problem of Post-Conviction Access to DNA Evidence; (2) California's Crime Lab Problems; (3) NCSTL Hosts DNA for Defense Seminar; and (4) Crime Laboratories Nationwide Feel the Pinch;

•NCSTL's Forensic Conference & Seminar Calendar: Want to know when and where there are upcoming conferences and seminars on forensic science? You need look no further;

•NCSTL's Resource Pages: Here are just a few of the many examples of the excellent resources you can access on NCSTL's Resource Pages: (1) hyperlinks to forensic science journals; (2) a hyperlinked list of innocence projects by state; and (3) a hyperlinked list of resources for expert witnesses; and

•NCSTL's Education & Training Page: On this page, you can, inter alia, (1) spice up one of your classes with a lecture by an expert; (2) access a variety of teaching resources; and (3) find a variety of media links.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's a seemingly bottomless repository of resources on the NCSTL site, and I seem to find something new each time that I visit.

The NCSTL Team:

NCSTL has a distinguished Advisory Council and a crack team of researchers. The Clearinghouse is helmed by Director Carol Henderson, a professor at the Stetson University College of Law

Professor Carol Henderson is a recognized authority in scientific evidence, law and ethics. She has presented more than 250 lectures and workshops to thousands of forensic scientists, attorneys, judges and law enforcement personnel worldwide on the topics of scientific evidence, courtroom testimony, and professional responsibility. She has lectured in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Scotland, Spain and Taiwan. Professor Henderson has written four books and more than 45 articles and book chapters on scientific evidence, law and ethics. 

NCSTL's Director of Research is Diana Botluck.

A legal information professional for over 20 years, Ms. Botluk is also the author of The Legal List: Research on the Internet, a book published annually by West Group. Named one of the top eight online legal researchers in T.R. Halvorson’s book, Law of the Super Searchers: The Online Secrets of Top Legal Researchers, she is an innovative information professional with a focus on online, legal, and forensic resources.

NCSTL's Director of Outreach is Anjali Swienton.

Ms. Swienton received her M.F.S. from the George Washington University in 1992 and her J.D. (Cum Laude) from The American University, Washington College of Law in 2002. She is President and CEO of SciLawForensics, Ltd. which provides litigation support and facilitation for the development of specialized training and education tools and publications to the criminal justice and law enforcement communities. 

Finally, NCSTL's Director of Technology & Distance Education is Susan Zucker.

Dr. Susan Zucker has twelve years’ experience directing educational programs. Her areas of expertise include instructional technology integration, web course development and online applications, curriculum design and delivery, and faculty and staff development. She teaches web-based distance delivery graduate courses for the University of South Florida’s (USF) College of Education where she holds a courtesy faculty appointment.

With these great minds (as well as others) helming NCSTL, it is easy to see why the Clearinghouse is such a great success.

-CM

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