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Forensic Symposium

The Future of Crime Labs and Forensic Science

Symposium Co-Sponsors

The Houston Law Review
Criminal Justice Institute
Justice Ruby Kless Sondock Jurist-In-Residence Lectureship Series

Cancelled - Due to UH Closing and Severe Weather (

NEW DATE - Friday, September 20, 2019
*Keynote Speaker Judge Jed S. Rakoff (S.D.N.Y)

Friday, September 20, 2019
8:00 a.m. - 2:15 p.m.

University of Houston Law Center

CLE Credit 3.75

Updated Agenda

Friday, September 20, 2019

8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Registration and Breakfast

8:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.

Welcome and Introduction

Sandra Guerra Thompson, University of Houston Law Center

8:45 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Keynote Address:
Hon. Jed S. Rakoff, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York Justice Ruby Kless Sondock Jurist-In-Residence Lecture

Why Judges Admit Bad Forensic Science and What Can Be Done About It

Bad forensic science evidence is present in more than 40% of cases involving innocent people being wrongly convicted. Yet, despite repeated warnings from the scientific community as to the doubtful quality of much of this evidence, such as hair comparisons, bite-mark comparisons, arson analyses, and the like, the great majority of courts continue to admit such evidence routinely. This lecture discusses the weakness of such evidence, the reasons for its continued admission in the face of such weakness, and what might be done to cure this problem.

9:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Roadblocks: Cultural and Structural Impediments to Forensic Science Reform
Jessica Gabel Cino, Georgia State University College of Law

Commentator: Sarah Chu, Innocence Project

10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.


10:30 a.m. – 11:130 a.m.

State Habeas Reform since the NAS Report: Changed Science Writs
Valena Beety, Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

Commentators: Bob Wicoff, Harris County Public Defender’s Office
Gerald Doyle, Harris County District Attorney’s Office

11:30 p.m. – 12:15 p.m.

The Quality and the Quantity of Forensics

Brandon L. Garrett, Duke Law School

Commentator: Nick Hughes, Harris County Public Defender’s Office

12:15 p.m.

Lunch served

12:45 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

How Can a Forensic Result be a “Decision”?

Simon A. Cole, UCI School of Social Ecology

Commentator: Dr. Amy Castillo, COO of the Houston Forensic Science Center

1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Solving Daubert’s Dilemma in Forensic Science through Blind Testing
Nicole Casarez, University of St. Thomas Commentator: Edward Cheng, Vanderbilt Law School

The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One research university and an EEO/AA institution.