The Case of the Displaced Detective Omnibus

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Here is the weekly road construction report for Hamilton County: I at I Interchange Reconstruction: Crews will continue surveying and spotting utilities at various locations throughout the interchange. Shoulders may be closed at these locations between 9 a. Additionally, a hauling operation will be taking place requiring a single left lane closure on I SB at Several local businesses and housing services specializing in providing safe housing options for newly released inmates who are maintaining stable The woman charged in the hit and run death of a Chattanooga Police officer is going back to jail for a probation violation.

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Authorities said Janet Hinds had an infraction for alcohol use. Her probation officer said Ms. Hinds failed to report on June 20 for a random drug screen. The next day she was contacted and ordered to go to Pre-Trial Services.

Friday, January 30, 2015

She did report and her drug The work is due to take from 18 to 24 months. Officials said, "The Third and Fourth Street Project is designed to foster a safe and more walkable built environment in Chattanooga's health and wellness district. The city is planning a divided Fourth Street to provide two-way I want to thank the five county commissioners who voted down the ridiculous property tax increase. Your votes reflected the wishes of the electorate — and that is exactly as it should be.

By casting our vote we select the candidate that will we hope best represent our best interests. Yes, there are always The phenomenon occurs when an individual hair on the head of a deceased person decomposes within the follicle. When a light source is transmitted through the hair sample, a "discontinuity in the light path," or "opacity," is observed, which is caused by the refraction of the light passing through the canals. Petraco testified that when a hair shaft which had begun to decompose in the follicle is examined under a scanning electron microscope, an opaque, spindle-shaped band is observed in the area of the "proximal" end, near where the hair connects to the root.

According to defendant's experts, the banding will be observed in hairs taken from some portions of the scalp of the decedent, but not in hairs taken from other areas. De Forest testified that the occurrence of this phenomenon is dependent upon a number of factors. The closer that the hair shaft gets to the surface of the skin, the greater the degree of keratinization. Keratin is a class of sulfur-containing fibrous proteins which contribute to the hair's hardness.

However, the further from the root, the greater the accessibility to microbes, the bacteria which causes the decomposition. Petraco, while it ordinarily takes at least two days for postmortem hair banding to occur in a warm environment, the time period for postmortem hair banding to occur depends upon a number of factors. Both experts acknowledged that there is more work to be done to determine precisely how this phenomenon takes place, particularly as far as timing and temperature.

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They explained that such additional work will have to be done through case studies, as opposed to empirical research, because of the difficulty of controlling for temperature, humidity, and other variables. Petraco testified that the technique for identifying postmortem root hair banding is generally accepted within the relevant scientific community, which they define as criminologists who are involved in trace evidence analysis.

Included within this group are the FBI and various medical examiner's offices and police laboratories. Alison Domzalski is the criminologist who was called by the People.

When Ms. Domzalski was working on her Master's thesis with Dr. De Forest as her adviser, she observed hair banding produced not by decomposition in the follicle, but rather by exposure to the environment, as where the hair was submerged in water or soil.


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Domzalski does not dispute that the phenomenon known as postmortem hair banding occurs. According to all three of the defendant's experts, Dr. De Forest, Mr. Petraco, and Ms. Faye Ann Springer, a qualified hair examiner should be able to distinguish the two different types of hair banding through microscopic examination, although in certain situations an accurate determination cannot be made.

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De Forest, in the case of "classic root banding," there is no indication of any digestion at the extreme proximal end. Nor is there any evidence of "erosion" or of any kind of "debris" that the hair would have come into contact with by exposure to the environment. De Forest acknowledged that his ability to differentiate postmortem root banding from that caused by the environment is in part a subjective judgment based upon his experience of observing the phenomenon.

The long-recognized rule of Frye v United States is that expert testimony based upon scientific principles or procedures is admissible but only after a principle or procedure has "gained general acceptance" in its specified field. People v Wesley, 83 NY2d , []. The Frye rule of general acceptance in the relevant scientific community continues to be recognized by our Court of Appeals. See e. People v Lee, 96 NY2d []. Rule provides that if scientific knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.

In Daubert, the Supreme Court, in discussing the nature of scientific inquiry, articulated certain criteria that a trial court is to apply in "screening" scientific evidence and attempting to insure that it is reliable. The Court noted that the term "scientific" implies a grounding in the methods and procedures of science. While the term "knowledge" connotes more than subjective belief or unsupported speculation, the subject of scientific testimony need not be known to a certainty. Arguably, there are no certainties in science.

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Scientists do not assert that they know what is immutably true, rather they search for new, temporary theories to explain phenomena as best they can. Science represents a process of proposing and refining theoretical explanations about the world that are subject to further testing and refinement. In order to qualify as "scientific knowledge," an inference or assertion must be derived by the scientific method. In Daubert, the Supreme Court held that for scientific evidence to be reliable, it must be scientifically valid.

Among the factors which the court may consider in determining whether a theory or technique is scientifically valid are i whether it can be or has been tested, ii whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication, iii the known or potential rate of error, and iv the degree of general acceptance within the scientific community.

As noted, in New York general acceptance within the scientific community is the touchstone for the admission of scientific evidence. However, given the nature of scientific inquiry, the reliability criteria identified by the Supreme Court in Daubert are useful to consider in applying the general acceptance standard. The court notes that Mr. Petraco's, Dr.


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De Forest's, and Faye Ann Springer's qualifications as an expert in the field of forensic science are not subject to dispute. The methodology for identifying postmortem hair banding was published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences in and has been subject to peer review, albeit within a small community.

The methodology has been tested to some extent in the form of case study analysis. The People's expert, Ms.

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Domzalski, has replicated a similar phenomenon through factors other than decomposition in the follicle. However, the risk of error in distinguishing the two phenomena appears to be slight, at least upon microscopic examination, as opposed to merely studying a photograph of a slide. That Ms. Domzalski's research will aid in refining our understanding of the hair banding phenomena is in the nature of scientific investigation generally and does not render Dr. De Forest's work invalid. Thus, the court concludes that the methodology testified to by the defendant's experts concerning postmortem hair banding is generally accepted within the forensic scientific community.

Aside from the state of the scientific analysis, other factors weigh in the court's discretionary decision concerning the admissibility of this evidence. People v Cronin, 60 NY2d [].