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Thu 18 Oct 12 #1 
jmaxg
Contributor


I have waited for this documentary to come out ever since I head of it in the news. Well, tonight it came out.....finally!

As if I have to point it out, the documentary takes apart that which is known as "Forensic Science" and quite rightly states, as I have always suspected, there is no such thing as forensic science.

Point by point, the show disassembles what we know and perceive to be "forensics" and asks the question at each point......where is the science?

I would have gone further. I would ask "Where is the unbiased structure"?

What do I mean? In just about every police force in the world, the agents that collect evidence for the court present it to the court. They do that because they are one and the same thing......the police. That means once that the police think you are "it" they will not rest until the court agrees. They might be right and they may not be right. What worries me is that they may not be right.

And now this documentary backs up that they are not always right. Even with their fabled "intuition". As big as a "well, DUHH" moment as you are ever gonna get.

Are there better systems? I think there are. The French have a really awesome system. In France, when a capital crime is detected, the police have just one job........to secure the area. That's it. They are not involved with the crime they have detected.

They then call "The Magistrate" who then ensures site isolation and then delegates investigatory function. The Magistrate is then in charge of the investigation......who is called, what agencies are used, that no one agency can talk to another unless controlled, every bit of the investigation process is carried out as if scrutiny is present all along.

Appreciate that in opposition to our system.......the system that led to O.J. Simpson being released. I am not stating whether or not O.J. was guilty or not. In fact, the law states that he is "innocent" as a matter of record. But that is not my point. O.J.'s guilt or innocence was not on trial. The evidence was and the fools that handled it. Whether you like it or not, O.J. Simpson's trial was your trial. If you don't get that, then you are a massive idiot.

Most of us that are in this site work under similar legal rules.

I brought the above to your attention simply to keep you advised.

My relatives are policemen and retired policemen are part of this site. Please understand I offer no disrespect whatsoever to police, both serving and retired.

But the above conjurs the question and I have no intention of pulling away from that.

There is a responsibility here. A responsibility to the people. Whoever enforces it, the point should be made.


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Fri 19 Oct 12 #2 
southshoregirl

Meaning absolutely no disrespect, jmaxg, but I do have a question after I make a statement. A crime scene being secured is absolutely a priority here too, and what I would like to know from you is what is the actual difference in conviction rate when comparing France and the US and Why do you think that the US has a terrible rate of correct convictions? May I suggest that we take very seriously that people in the US must be convicted BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT. There have been cases wish I have said to myself, for example, I think Casey Anthony is guilty BUT if I had been on the jury I would have had to voted for acquittal because there were too many "loose ends", too many "maybe nots". too many "perhaps it was this way" for me to say beyond a shadow of a doubt. I have not yet seen evidence to change my mind. I DO THINK, just THINK, that Casey Anthony PROBABLY killed her child but it hasn't been completely proven.
What do you think?


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Fri 19 Oct 12 #3 
shortbreadforme27
Contributor

Jmaxg prepare yourself for less Christmas cards this year from your relatives who are/were police officers - your remarks in paragraph 5 are extremely insulting to the vast majority of men and women who put their lives on the line to protect people like yourself. Forensic science has and will continue to prove beyond any shadow of doubt the guilt of offenders suspected of murder rape and other horrible crimes.

You know nothing about the continuity of the evidence chain required for prosecutions and the mechanics of policing in a modern world so until you are so sighted I would on the advice of your attorney take the fifth amendment.


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Sat 20 Oct 12 #4 
kevg
The Grumpinator

I seem to remember the French used to measure a criminals head. That didn't work either.


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Sat 20 Oct 12 #5 
southshoregirl

People with different skull shapes? Nah. That doesn't work either.


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Sat 20 Oct 12 #6 
jmaxg
Contributor

Well, like I said SBFM, I am sorry about that.

But the fact is, the evidence is irrefutable. In almost all the major western countries where the Westminster system is at large, a conclusion is arrived at and then the supporting structure is brought together to back it up......instead of the other way round.

In Britain, a Sidney Lumet film was released back in the 1960s called "The Offence", starring Sean Connery. That film spoke to directly to what I am talking about.

Australia has suffered it via the "Lindy Chamberlain" affair. My police relative, in our last conversation about this, stated outright "She's guilty." When I asked him to back that up, he cited reasons of confidentiality but that the evidence did exist. That was a head scratcher to me. But it did illustrate quite clearly a certain psychological "bent" with police. They hold a grudge. Just my opinion, but that, to me, is a worry. Police should not think like that.

In the US, there have been many cases of District Attorneys (DAs) indicted for manipulating cases and case evidence. Admittedly, it is a different system in the US because DAs have to be elected instead of appointed and one can easily see the pressure on an incumbent DA to get a record of convictions before any election. But all that does is contribute to the perception of a problem.

Recently, a technician at a forensics lab was convicted of tampering with evidence involving cases numbering in the 1,000s. My fear about this women though, is that she was doing what she thought she was ordered or instructed to do, either thinking it was a valid order, OR that she was going to get some bump up the ladder for doing so. The only problem is that she recorded NOTHING, demanded no written record for ANYTHING, and so took the fall for EVERYTHING.

I cannot help thinking that some higher level individuals are breathing a sigh of relief while she rots in jail.

But the above that I speak of relates to corruption. The documentary itself relates to evidenciary misinterpretation based on current and past ways of thinking and the lack of scientific basis for it.......and the obvious possibility of perversion based on the realisation and manipulation of that for one's own ends.

Combine the two, and you have the ingredients for the perfect storm.


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Sat 20 Oct 12 #7 
shortbreadforme27
Contributor

Jmaxg wake up and smell the coffee.


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Sat 20 Oct 12 #8 
kevg
The Grumpinator

"technician at a forensics lab" was a lazy bitch who didn't actually tamper with the evidence she "merely" didn't do the work she was paid for. That any were imprisoned because of her is doubtful but I'm sure their lawyers will have fun getting them all out. Only 30,000 I believe.
If the cops know the guy is guilty, he knows he is guilty and the great unwashed (us) know they are guilty why do we need anything else ??


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Sun 21 Oct 12 #9 
sally906
Contributor

Nothing worse than a guilty person getting off because of an administrative technicality - happens more often than people think.


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Sun 21 Oct 12 #10 
sally906
Contributor

Oh and further to the police in France they DO carry out investigations like any other police force in the world but, as stated, under direction - from legislation online:


The police force is under authority of the Minister of the Interior. At the top of the police hierarchy is the General Directorate of the National Police, which oversees several divisions. The Central Division of General Information controls information services concerning political, economical, and social issues. The Central Division of the City Police is in charge of city law enforcement. The Judicial Police Directorate is in charge of coordinating the search for the most dangerous delinquents and the investigation of the most serious offenses. The Territory Surveillance Directorate is in charge of State security. In French society, the administrative police generally maintain peace and order, such as the regulation of traffic. In addition, municipal police contribute to law enforcement in the municipalities.

The French legal system abides by the principal of unity of the civil and criminal justice system. The French Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP), sets out the powers, duties and responsibilities of the police, and those responsible for the supervision of criminal investigations. The role of the police is generally to ensure that the laws are observed and enforced. Efforts are also directed at the prevention of delinquency. The police must record the crime, gather evidence and seek out offenders. They must cooperate with the public prosecutor and inform him/her of all the crimes and offenses. In some instances, the police are under the direction of the public prosecutor.

The CCP outlines police public order powers as well as the powers of investigation. Police in France can stop and arrest an offender and bring him or her in front of the public prosecutor if they observe an offense that is in the process of being committed or has just been committed. This arrest can involve the search and seizure of witnesses and suspects. Search and seizure can occur during arrest, after the police have observed that a crime has just been committed or is about to be committed. As long as they have informed the public prosecutor's office, police can keep suspects under observation for 24 hours, and longer upon written authorization. For crimes not directly observable by police, a preliminary investigation is conducted under the direction of the public prosecutor to obtain information on the reported offense. Suspects can be kept under observation only if there is evidence against them and this decision can only be made by a judiciary police officer. The law guarantees that suspects have the right to request an attorney and the right to inform the family of the detention.

France also has mechanisms of internal and external evaluation that ensure proper police conduct. Ethical police conduct is further enforced by the Code of National Police (CNP) and related investigatory bodies.

Police personnel are recruited on a competitive basis. Training is given in specialized schools. Police officers are selected by an examination competition. The rank of the officers often depends upon the level of their education, whether secondary or post-secondary.


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Sun 21 Oct 12 #11 
southshoregirl

Souds like a mess too, Sally


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Mon 22 Oct 12 #12 
jmaxg
Contributor

Didn't sound like a mess at all sally. Sounded like a structure.

The inference is of course, that the police have overall jurisdiction in the investigation of capital crime.

But I made a statement. I said, under French law, that in cases of capital crime, most specifically murder or an unexplained death, that a "magistrate" is appointed and that he or she has now overall jurisdiction relative to that alleged crime.

A simple enough claim. And I made it based on a documentary I watched.

Was that documentary incorrect?


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Mon 22 Oct 12 #13 
sally906
Contributor

Not sure I haven't seen the documentary so can't comment on what I don't know - I very rarely 100% believe anything I see on TV until I have done my own research. Not to say ALL documentary producers have an agenda, but sometimes they do hence my distrust.

Doesn't help that my very job means I have to take most things said to me with a grain of salt until I have done an investigation.

But I find it improbable that the French police are not law enforcers like every other country. Maybe the magistrate calls in the French version of CID or detective types which are still police but just a different branch - like the common bobby, or uniforms, hands over to the plain clothes.


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Wed 24 Oct 12 #14 
jmaxg
Contributor

I never said that it (the documentary) did. All I said is that the documentary represented French capital crime investigation in a sort of "project management" style.

The Magistrate called in the proper agencies to perform certain tasks. That may, and probably will, mean that the French Police Investigative Branch will be ordered to do their job and I am sure they will do it well.

In short, when a capital crime is discovered by Gendarmes, the following happens:

1. Rope off area, isolate.
2. The Magistrate is appointed and notified.
3. The Magistrate orders the French Investigative Service to carry out preliminary review of the crime site.
4. The French Investigative Service does so diligently and professionally. Results are passed back to the Magistrate.
5. The Magistrate orders in various agencies, some involved with, but not necessarily limited to, forensics. They do their job and report back to the Magistrate.
6. If required, the Magistrate again calls in the French Investigative Service to carry out wider inquiries such as suspect tracking and interrogation. Results are forwarded back to the Magistrate.
7. A case for prosecution is formed, or it is not. If it is, the Magistrate will refer the case to the next highest legal authority for further action including a massive portfolio of evidence.

At no time, with the above scenario, did I impugn the professionalism of French Law Enforcement.

All I did was note that the Westminster system can be applied in different ways.


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Wed 24 Oct 12 #15 
jmaxg
Contributor

I like the above system because it means that no two agencies need necessarily talk to each other.

Hopefully, that means any single investigation service will not be subject to pressure or influence by another. If so, the Magistrate will know about it and, if necessary, even terminate the investigation due to corruption if detected.

It just seems like a cleaner way.


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Wed 24 Oct 12 #16 
southshoregirl

Nah, that's why so many Americans like to carry guns. It's simple.


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Wed 24 Oct 12 #17 
sally906
Contributor

I am sure ALL police investigative departments are diligent and professional in the main. There will be bad apples of course as in ANY profession. I think there will still be room for corruption in the project French system - has to be when humans are involved. Would be lovely to think this will be different, but time will tell :)

I also am a great believer in shared knowledge many people think knowledge is power and we all know that power corrupts. Shared knowledge means everyone is on the same page and working to the same goal. So don't agree with that.

No SSG we can't just shoot people that brings us down to the criminal level :)


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Thu 25 Oct 12 #18 
Ajax
Contributor

Agree Sally.


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Thu 25 Oct 12 #19 
soupy
Member

me too


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Sat 27 Oct 12 #20 
jmaxg
Contributor

And I agree too sally.

But the original post was about how forensics itself is now under trial, not just the system at large that oversees forensics.

Fingerprinting for example.......A guy from the United States got his ass hauled into court, then he passed arraignment, then was slated for trial for....wait for it......the Madrid Bombings. He had an alibi, was never anywhere near Spain when the bombings occurred. Why did he get selected? A fuzzy fingerprint that just happened to contain enough ID markings for a match.

Interpol later said "Sorry. It wasn't that guy, it was this guy." Another person who had the same number of ID markings BUT who was also under surveillance all along as a suspected terrorist.

An innocent person had his life turned upside down for many months for the most horrible of crimes due to the pseudo-science of fingerprint identification.

See my point?


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Sat 27 Oct 12 #21 
kevg
The Grumpinator

nothing is perfect but fingerprints solved far more trials than anything else. Now we have DNA, I'm sure in time that will be seen as old hat but for now...............


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Sat 27 Oct 12 #22 
jmaxg
Contributor

Then there is incendiary crime scene interpretation - a guy called Todd Willingham was put to death by Texas for the crime of setting a house fire that killed his three young daughters. The motive? Retribution for his divorced situation.

The primary evidence? Testimony by the local fire chief (the local VOLUNTARY fire chief) that patterns at the crime scene indicated the fire was deliberately set using accelerates.

Oh, that and testimony by witnesses that he didn't try hard enough to run into a blazing inferno to save his three daughters. Something that may be called "common sense" but in this case, his inability to retrieve his (probably already dead) daughters must therefore be interpreted as his evil will to burn his offspring just to provoke what previously was an amicable situation according to witnesses.

Submissions from around the United States after the case was decided by actual fire crime scene experts whose testimony was not allowed in court? Nil evidence existed that a fire was set. All evidence pointed to an electrical short circuit starting inside the house.

To me, that's the killer. Every fire authority in the entire United States AGREED that the fire was caused by an electrical short. But that one court in Texas knew better based on the testimony of one volunteer fire chief.

Italy does this too......Texas is not alone. When Aryton Senna died, the Italian authorities were out for blood. Someone was gonna pay for this. Italy is famous for it. Although it was obvious that it was part failure that led to Senna's death, nevertheless, the San Marino track authorities were grilled mercilessly. I am not saying that that wasn't appropriate. I just hope no skilled professionals lost their job over it.

But one man lost his life over the death of three young girls....his daughters. If I was him, even if it wasn't my fault, a lethal injection would be a gift from God.

But what if it wasn't really his fault, as the evidence suggests?

I think the evidence is overwhelming that it wasn't his fault. A moot point now as he was killed by Texas in 2004.


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Sat 27 Oct 12 #23 
southshoregirl

I was only joking about the gun, guys. I think there is a really good attempt in most police stations to do perfect criminal investigations but wherever humans are involved there WILL be errors, not intentionally but because we are humans.


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Sat 27 Oct 12 #24 
sally906
Contributor

Yeah. Science is not the be all and end all because human error occurs as does human stupidity. science is not the problem it is the people who use the results. Yes the fingerprints can be a very good piece of evidence but if it is blurred or partial it should have been dismissed. That's not forensics fault it is the people who allowed the flawed evidence to be used. To me there would have been very reasonable doubt that the man arrested was the man they wanted as the fingerprint was not clear enough for there to be no doubt.

As for the Texas case. I can see the flaws a mile off - hearsay evidence was taken into consideration which is wrong, and there was no independent expert evidence. So again it was the system that let that poor man down not the forensics.


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Wed 31 Oct 12 #25 
jmaxg
Contributor

I agree sally.

Remember the Texas Rangers? Once upon a time, the Texas Rangers were the shining example within the United States, perhaps a shining example to the world, that diligent law enforcement was the answer to "the wild, wild west". And they were right then.

But now? The Texas Rangers are a bunch of fat, middle aged men that delight in the tradition of stetson hats, cowboy boots and string ties. They have all but lost sight of their original mission and now are allegedly corrupt, lazy and basically a danger to the public at large that they are supposed to protect.

Regardless of the Texas Rangers of whom I was so disappointed to know may be like that now, I, myself, have always put law enforcement in a special category. Law enforcement officers have a duty above and beyond that of normal citizens. I have always wanted to admire them for that.

But reality and human nature also must play a part. Other countries do it different because maybe they see reality and human nature playing a part. So they break up and distance certain investigatory departments for the sake of overall integrity relative to the prosecution process.

No argument out of me. I totally agree with that.

I also agree with cops being cops........just not some multi-departmental behemoth that can put me away if it doesn't like me.

Just a logical statement.


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Wed 31 Oct 12 #26 
jmaxg
Contributor

I wanna do my job. That is to comply with the police in any way.

But common sense, now, says that I should be diligent and cogniscent of my civil rights.

I don't want to be here. But the conduct of bad cops says that I should be here.

And now, I am forever observant and defensive.


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Wed 31 Oct 12 #27 
sally906
Contributor

Nowt wrong with being observant and defensive :)


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