Law professor to lecture Sept. 26 about dilemmas in forensic evidence at URI seminar

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KINGSTON, R.I.- September 18, 2008- A Hofstra University law professor will discuss, “Legal Dilemmas in Forensic Evidence” on Friday, Sept. 26 at the University of Rhode Island’s Forensic Science Seminar.

Hofsta Law School Professor J. Herbie DiFonzo’s lecture will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Pastore Hall, 51 Lower College Road, Room 124 and is free and open to the public.

DiFonzo will discuss how popular television shows such as CSI have glorified forensic science and how this may be influencing jurors in criminal cases. He will shine a light on the “CSI Effect” and whether it is, in fact, changing the perceptions of jurors and the way that attorneys present their cases. With the notable exception of DNA typing, several widely used forensic techniques may be scientifically unreliable and lacking in validity. He will explain that even though DNA analysis is currently the most valuable forensic tool, it is still subject to human error. DiFonzo will offer a healthy dose of skepticism and objectivity in evaluating the legal dilemmas in forensic evidence.

DiFonzo has had a long career as a federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. As a law professor at Hofstra University, he directed the Criminal Justice Clinic for eight years. In 2005, he presented the Distinguished Faculty Lecture at Hofstra University, entitled “The Surprising Unreliability of DNA Evidence: A Tale of Bad Labs and Good Statutes of Limitations.” Recent published articles include “The Crimes of Crime Labs,” and (with Ruth C. Stern), “Devil in a White Coat: The Temptation of Forensic Evidence in the Age of CSI.”