Category Archives: Editorial

In Memory of Diana Nagy

Diana NagyIt is with tremendous sadness that we share the loss of Diana Nagy, who passed away recently after a brave battle against glioblastoma. Diana was with Promega for more than 21 years, and made significant contributions in her role as Contracts Manager for the Genetic Identity business at Promega. One of her favorite parts of her job was being the curator of Forensic Connect. She loved finding fascinating stories of real world cases to post on Forensic Connect, and took great pride in sharing news of the latest advances in forensic science on the site.

Away from work, she loved to cook for her husband Randy—they celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary in 2020. She was a voracious reader, a highly talented seamstress, and a loving dog mom to her Chihuahua’s, Bella and Buster. Her daughter, Lindsay and she were quite close, and they loved their annual Ferris Bueller day away from their jobs together. They spent the past few months of Diana’s life making memories together, sharing laughs while they enjoyed doing the things Diana most loved.

Diana will be missed by everyone on the Genetic Identity team. She always had a smile for whomever needed one. Her kindness, sense of humor, and friendship were true gifts to all who had the good fortune to know her.

Because Forensic Connect was inimitably Diana’s endeavor, we have decided to close the site down. If you wish to keep up with the latest in DNA forensics, you may wish to subscribe to ISHInews blog or the ISHI report. You can learn more at www.ishinews.com.

The Promega Genetic Identity Team

Obituary for Diana Lee Nagy. View details at https://www.crandallfuneral.com/obituary/diana-nagy

In France, it’s illegal for consumers to order a DNA spit kit. Activists are fighting over lifting the ban

The French ban on direct-to-consumer genetic testing is part of the country’s bioethics laws, which legislators are supposed to revise every seven years. When those discussions got under way earlier this year, some geneticists expected the National Assembly to relax the rules about commercial DNA analysis. It didn’t. Now, Jovanovic-Floricourt and the other genetics enthusiasts in her education and advocacy group, DNA Pass, are agitating more and more to get some of these tests legalized, contacting lawmakers, chatting up scientists, promising a more vociferous campaign than they’ve waged before.

Forensic science isn’t ‘reliable’ or ‘unreliable’: It depends on the questions you’re trying to answer

After recent criticism in the US and the UK, forensic science is now coming under attack in Australia. Several recent reports have detailed concerns that innocent people have been jailed because of flawed forensic techniques.
Among the various cases presented, it is surprising that the most prominent recent miscarriage of justice in Victoria did not rate a mention: the wrongful conviction of Farah Jama, who was found guilty of rape in 2008 before the verdict was overturned in 2009.

Federal funding necessary for clearing rape kit backlog

Congress has the opportunity to renew important funding for helping solve a critical issue in the U.S. — the number of untested rape kits languishing on shelves of police departments, hospitals and state crime labs.

How much should juries rely on expert testimony?

Ten years ago, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) published a groundbreaking study on the use of forensics in criminal trials. The study found that, in the “pattern matching” fields of forensics in particular, expert witnesses had been vastly overstating the significance and certainty of their analyses. For some fields, such as bite-mark analysis, the study found no scientific research at all to support the central claims of practitioners.

We need to fix forensics. But how?

Ten years ago, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) published a groundbreaking study on the use of forensics in criminal trials. The study found that, in the “pattern matching” fields of forensics in particular, expert witnesses had been vastly overstating the significance and certainty of their analyses. For some fields, such as bite-mark analysis, the study found no scientific research at all to support the central claims of practitioners.

The future of justice depends on fixing the forensic science crisis

UK-We are fascinated by it, and rightly so – what science enables us to detect has transformed how we reconstruct criminal events, whether using digital information like phone data and automated recognition technologies, or detecting DNA traces that often go unnoticed.
And yet the field is in trouble. Earlier this month, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee published the findings of its inquiry into forensic science, setting out in no uncertain terms that the system is in crisis.

How Much Does DNA Change Our Life Story?

Until 2016, when my father’s doctor told us he was dying of pancreatic cancer. With the internet’s capacity for ancestral research and the boom in DNA testing, my sisters and I decided it was time to give my father the gift of genomic closure.

Golden State Killer case ushers in new era of fourth-party consent

News of the apprehension of one of the most notorious serial killers in history, the Golden State Killer, was nearly upstaged by the innovative means police used to discover his identity. Through publicly available information on a genealogy website, police were able to identify suspect Joseph DeAngelo based on the DNA of the alleged killer’s family members who had used the service. But law enforcement’s move to close a painful chapter of California history has also opened a Pandora’s box of privacy concerns.

Using DNA and ancestry sites to solve crimes: Good police work or invasion of privacy?

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – More than 25 years after Lancaster County elementary teacher Christy Mirack was brutally killed, an arrest has been made using DNA evidence and a genealogy site.
The same technology led to an arrest in a 30-year-old double murder case in Seattle and also helped police identify a suspect in the Golden State Killer cases.

Adoptees turn to DNA tests for answers

DNA testing has become something revolutionary for adults who were adopted as babies or children, often without ever knowing anything about their family or background.
DNA testing can sometimes be the first concrete piece of information an adopted person has ever heard about themselves. That’s powerful.

Should Statutes of Limitations for Rape Be Abolished?

Across the country, time-limiting laws prevent scores of sexual assault cases from being prosecuted, in spite of persuasive evidence or a confession.

‘Rapid DNA Testing’ Fuels Privacy Concerns Over New Justice Technology

An automated version of DNA testing, approved by the FBI this month for use by law enforcement and backed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is sparking concerns about the growing threat to privacy posed by emerging justice technology.
One version of the so-called “Rapid DNA Analysis” system, developed by the Boston-area ANDE corporation, was the first to receive approval for use in the National DNA Index System (NDIS), the national database that contains DNA profiles from participating federal, state and local forensic labs. Fully automated, it can produce a DNA identification from a sample in just a few hours. This is much faster than standard DNA forensic testing methods, which can sometimes take days, weeks, or months.

Bad Blood

Joe Bryan, a former small-town high school principal from central Texas, is serving 99 years in prison for the brutal murder of his wife, Mickey, in 1985 — a crime he probably didn’t commit. Mr. Bryan has been locked up for about 30 years. He has no clear prospects for release other than periodic opportunities at parole, which he has been denied despite being a model prisoner and having a spotless disciplinary record. Many of the prison guards who know him best are convinced that he’s innocent.

The Justice Department is squandering progress in forensic science

Imagine this: A cop pulls you over and arrests you because you match the description of someone wanted for a heinous crime. You are innocent, but after being charged and brought to trial, you watch as experts testify with “scientific certainty” that hair and footprints at the scene match your own, and you are led from the courtroom in shackles.
This may seem like a scene straight out of a TV melodrama, but this scenario happens in real life far too often. A number of forensic techniques — including hair- and footprint-matching, mark analysis, bloodstain-pattern analysis and others — lack scientific validity and reliability yet are used frequently in our nation’s courtrooms.