Criminal law expert Ken Strutin’s article addresses how DNA forensics is about information, privacy and the presumption of innocence. It has become the determinant for identification, solving cold cases and exonerating the innocent. Strutin describes that at its core, it is an inestimable library of personal data. Due to the increasingly important role of Personally identifiable information (PII), courts and legislatures have been attempting to balance the interests of the individual in protecting their genetic information with the usefulness and necessity of that same data for criminal investigation. Strutin notes clearly that any DNA or forensic database is a composite of intertwined informational and legal values that pose competing and conflicting questions about the analytics (accuracy, reliability and validity) of the data and the lawfulness (constitutionality) of its gathering. His article collects recent notable decisions and scholarship appearing in the aftermath of Maryland v. King.
Ken Strutin’s article addresses the increasing use and impact, social and legal, of the emerging and high visibility technology known as 3D printing. The technology’s use in a wide range of sectors – including education, manufacturing, firearms, robotics and medical devices, as well as in the home – is raising a plethora of patent, trademark and intellectual property issues. In addition, libraries and museums are beginning to embrace 3D technologies for archiving and collection development. And the widespread ability to create three-dimensional objects via technology is transforming information collection, storage and communication across a spectrum of fields.
Ken Strutin begins his article stating that for the most part, the decision of whether to grant a pardon or commutation rests on the discretion of the executive. He continues, it is a constitutional authority that leaves little recourse if the President or a governor chooses not to act or to do so parsimoniously. He notes the downward trend in the granting of clemency begs the question of whether this is due to some fault in the process or in the decider or some other aggregation of factors. And he takes up the challenge of legal scholars and petitioners to speculate on whether there is any relief for a petrified constitutional remedy. Ken’s article highlights some notable decisions and scholarship about clemency practices and the legal theories underlying a mandate for its application. It is an important resource on a significant issue by a subject matter expert whose work continuously expands our understanding of complex issues related to civil liberties and the law.
Ken Strutin’s new guide on criminal justice illuminates the growing importance of math in the administration of justice, with an emphasis on the areas of proof and judgment. Ken raises the examples of how statistics (evidence) and probability (analytics) have been used and challenged in many criminal cases to match people to events through such means as: DNA, soil samples, eyewitness descriptions, firearm purchase records, typewritten documents, clothes fibers, footprints, hair follicles, blood types, sperm, teeth marks, and conviction rates. Indeed, everything from traffic tickets to predictive policing draws on math in some way. Ken’s analysis and through documentation of case law adds a critical perspective on the manner in which “numbers are used, and abused” in court.
Criminal law expert Ken Strutin guides us through the critical facets that comprise the backbone of investigative forensics in the 21st Century – the database. Ken states that of all information gathering techniques, genetic databanking has become the holy grail of prosecutions and the last resort for exonerations. It is both the cause of and solution to many problems in the administration of justice. Thus, DNA forensics highlights the longstanding tension between scientific understanding and legal reasoning. While DNA’s scientific reputation is very near to magic, its forensic applications are subject to the faults and limitations of every kind of evidence offered as proof in a court of law. Ken’s article collects research on the law and science of genetic evidence at the pre-conviction stage. It focuses on the role of DNA in identification, investigation and prosecution of crime, social and privacy issues, and to some degree exculpation or evidence of third party culpability.
In his article, Ken Strutin examines how the 21st century use of watch lists might or might not resemble the labeling of the McCarthy period, and how the experience of that era might inform an evaluation of present-day designation of the dangerous. After first describing the two labeling mechanisms, it compares them along several axes, finding that watch listing has both repeated some 1950s failings and moved on to develop some new ones of its own. In particular, because they are compiled and used in an opaque and completely one-sided process, watch lists run a substantial risk of incorrectly including many people who pose no threat.
Ken Strutin focuses on the impact of the Supreme Court’s decisions in Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper, and the upcoming appeal in Burt v. Titlow in regard to placing plea bargaining front and center on the national stage. As a result, they have divided practitioners and scholars into two camps: (1) those who consider the rulings to be a new statement in the law of plea bargaining and right to effective assistance of counsel; and (2) those who believe they are only a restatement of established principles. These cases have generated interest in the centrality and regulation of plea bargaining, the ethics and effectiveness of defense counsel as negotiator, the oversight of prosecutors regarding charging decisions, sentence recommendations and pre-trial discovery, and the scope of federal habeas corpus review and remedies. Ken’s article is a comprehensive annotated guide to high court opinions, scholarship and commentary regarding the themes addressed by the Supreme Court in Lafler and Frye as well as their implications for the administration of criminal justice.
Ken Strutin brings attention and focus to the fact that dog detection at airports for contraband, in traffic stops for narcotics, at fire scenes for accelerants and at suspect lineups are playing an increasingly important role in criminal investigations. At the same time, Ken documents that the thresholds of olfactory detection continue to test the limits of privacy, probable cause and due process. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court decided two cases involving animal assisted investigation. The fallout from these decisions will add to the evolving body of case law in federal and state courts as they continue to sort out the constitutional limits of this type of investigation.
After the first criminal appeal, there is no constitutional right to counsel. Thus, the convicted and imprisoned pursuing discretionary appeals and habeas corpus relief must research, investigate and litigate as their own attorney. Law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker Ken Strutin’s guide documents a body of law that has developed defining the spectrum between full-blown post-conviction representation and the impact of the conditions of confinement on pro se litigants.
Ken Strutin’s expert commentary focuses on the duality of fire as both a science and a set of actions and behaviors initiated by individuals and groups. Strutin documents how these factors relate to the complexities of criminal prosecutions in this arena, and how assumptions about the former have led to misjudgments about the latter. Further, he examines how progress in the understanding of how fires begin and spread has called into question the integrity of arson convictions. His guide is a collection of selected research publications, web resources and case studies as well as scholarly legal articles and scientific reports on arson investigation and fire science.