Advanced Evidence: Forensic Science in Criminal Cases

Forensic science evidence is used in criminal cases more than ever before. There is growing concern about overreliance on forensic evidence to win criminal convictions as technology expands and improves. At the same time, criticisms of various disciplines have mounted, and there is significant controversy over the use of forensic science in criminal cases.

This course serves as an intensive survey of the use of forensic evidence and experts in criminal cases. The course will pay special attention to DNA evidence, various forms of pattern evidence including fingerprint evidence, psychology, and digital/electronic/software-based evidence. We will explore the legal principles governing admissibility of evidence and discovery rules in criminal cases. We will also examine the scientific principles underpinning the most common forms of forensic evidence. Ethical considerations of all parties will be a significant topic of conversation as well.

There will be an experiential learning component to this course. In order to bring the subject matter to life, students will be given a criminal case file and assigned a role as prosecutor or defense attorney. In this simulation, each side will either be the proponent of some piece of forensic evidence or will attempt to block the admission of that evidence by their opponent. Students will also be required to present expert testimony in pairs.

P: EVIDENCE

Key to Codes in Course Descriptions
P: Prerequisite
C: Prerequisite or Concurrent Requirement
R: Recommended Prior or Concurrent Course