Stetson University offers capital litigators crime scene to courtroom training

Litigators who work on death penalty cases immersed themselves in a complimentary two-day crime scene to courtroom training seminar at St. Pete Beach on July 11-12 offered by Stetson University College of Law.

Death penalty expert and Temple University Professor of Law Jules Epstein spoke at the seminar.

Death penalty expert and Temple University Professor of Law Jules Epstein spoke at the crime scene to courtroom seminar.

Seminar topics included forensic science 101 for capital litigation; forensic report wording and statistics–interpreting DNA results; science research for lawyers; and forensics after the National Academy of Sciences Report.

Nationally known experts in death penalty law, forensic science and biology, and digital forensics led sessions and roundtable discussions with capital litigators from across the country. The seminar was funded by a grant awarded to the Bureau of Justice Assistance by the U.S. Department of Justice, Capital Litigation Initiative.

Speakers included death penalty law expert and Temple University Professor of Law Jules Epstein; forensic science expert Max Houck; and forensic biology and DNA expert Julie Sikorsky.

“Lawyers must be able to understand science because that knowledge could make or break a case,” said Stetson University Professor of Law Carol Henderson, director of the National Clearinghouse of Science, Technology and the Law. “Working with the BJA, Stetson is offering much-needed interdisciplinary education in a critical area.”

Through grants from the BJA, Stetson has offered several training workshops on the use of forensic science in trying capital cases. Last fall, Stetson University’s National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law was awarded a grant from the U.S. Attorney General to develop a forensic evidence training program for lawyers who work on death penalty cases. In March, Stetson launched an eight-part series of webinars as part of the Capital Litigation Initiative: Crime Scene to Courtroom Forensics Training that educates lawyers about using forensic science in death penalty cases, from evaluating the crime scene to defending or prosecuting death penalty cases in court.

Stetson’s next webinar in the series on Pathology Essentials is Oct. 13. To register, or for more information, contact Mercy Roberg at ope@law.stetson.edu or 727-562-7898 or visit www.ncstl.org.