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Nation’s Experts Address Impact of Forensic Science on Criminal Justice Reform Wecht Institute to Hold Sixth Annual Conference

Top experts and scholars from across the nation will gather to explore the sweeping impact of forensic scientific advances on criminal justice reform at the sixth annual Forensic Science and Law Conference, Justice for All, to be held at Duquesne University April 20-22.Sponsored by The Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law, the Duquesne University School of Law and The Justice Project, this year’s conference theme was chosen in response to the historic Justice for All Act of 2004. The landmark legislation enhances protections for federal crime victims, increases federal resources available to state and local governments to combat crimes with DNA technology, and provides safeguards to prevent wrongful convictions and executions.

“The waves of exonerations in this country based on forensic scientific advances have dramatically altered the climate for criminal justice reform in this country and made paramount the need for reforms to both harness the growing potential and address the limitations of forensic science in meting out justice for all,” says John T. Rago, executive director of the Wecht Institute and assistant professor of law at Duquesne University.

“This conference presents a unique opportunity to explore the causes of and solutions to wrongful convictions,” says John Terzano, president of The Justice Project and a presenter at the conference. “The program will provide meaningful discussion including concrete ways to ensure that the American criminal justice system operates fairly and accurately.”

Among the topics to be addressed:

  • The Past, Present and Future of DNA Testing in the Advancement of Criminal Justice
  • Why Criminal Justice Reform Matters: The Reality of Wrongful Convictions
  • Standards of Scientific Proof in Capital Cases
  • The CSI Effect and the Psychology of Juries
  • Police Lineup Procedures and Improving the Reliability of Eyewitness Identification
  • Snitch Testimony: The Power of Uncorroborated Evidence

View the complete conference agenda.

Conference faculty includes:

The Honorable William S. Sessions: former FBI director, and former U.S. Attorney and U.S. District Judge for Western Texas

The Honorable Michael J. Sullivan: U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts and member of the Governor’s Council on Capital Punishment

The Honorable Arlen Specter: chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and co-sponsor of the Justice for All Act

Dr. Henry C. Lee: internationally acclaimed forensic scientist and star of the Court TV show Trace Evidence: The Case Files of Dr. Henry Lee

Kirk N. Bloodsworth: former prisoner whose capital conviction was the first in the United States to be overturned by DNA evidence

Thomas Doswell: former prisoner who, after serving 19 years, became Allegheny County’s first inmate to be exonerated by DNA evidence.

View the complete list of Justice for All faculty and bios.

Co-sponsors include the American Bar Association Section of Criminal Justice, the American Bar Association Section of Science and Technology Law, the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner and the Pittsburgh Institute of Legal Medicine.

Justice for All is open to the public. Continuing education credits are available for attorneys, teachers and others. For more information or to register, call 412.396.1330, e-mail justiceforall@duq.edu or register online. To set up media interviews, call Rose Ravasio in the Public Affairs office at 412.396.6051/cell 412.818.0234.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.