Sunday, January 30, 2011

Statewide forensic oversight body proposed in California?

This just in from Forensic Magazine: "Assemblymember Tom Ammiano announced his intention to introduce two bills to improve the reliability and function of California’s criminal justice system. The first bill would create a statewide forensic oversight body that would craft uniform procedures and standards for crime labs throughout the state. The companion bill would develop guidelines for policies and procedures for the collection and handling of eyewitness evidence in criminal investigations by all law enforcement agencies operating in California. He believes both of these measures would increase public trust and the reliability of these two key components of that make up the backbone of our criminal justice system.

“The problems with San Francisco’s crime lab are just the tip of the iceberg both here and across the state. Without effective oversight to guarantee the integrity of evidence and standard procedures for eyewitness identification, we put both victims and the accused at risk. Our criminal justice system must reflect our society’s values and ensure that the end result is real justice for all involved,” said Ammiano."

Obviously, I'll be watching this development closely.

Enjoy.

Friday, January 28, 2011

District court's finding of fact contradicted by videotape

This just in: "The Eighth Circuit finds the District Court's finding of reasonable suspicion for a traffic violation to be clearly erroneous and contradicted by the videotape of the stop. The defendants' car exited a Nebraska freeway to avoid a ruse checkpoint. United States v. Prokupek, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 1392 (8th Cir. January 24, 2011).

Click here for more information.

Enjoy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Even bad video can help tell your story

From People v Flores (B220564) - Unpublished
Court of Appeals of California, Second District, Division Five
Filed January 26, 2011

"The gas station's video footage of the crime was admitted into evidence. The quality of the video was not such that the individuals could be identified. The video did, however, indicate that shortly before the first shot was fired, one of the African-American onlookers lifted his arm and pointed at something. The victim's friend, Burnett, identified himself as "the pointer" in the video, and testified that he was pointing at appellant in response to seeing appellant's gun. The defense sought to establish that the shooter fired the gun in response to being threatened; that is to say, appellant wished to argue (without admitting that he was present at the crime scene) that he and his two companions were greatly outnumbered by the dozen or so youths who were following the group to the back of the gas station; that he assumed that his adversaries were gang members, and that gang members typically carry weapons; so that when he saw one of his adversaries lift his arm and point at him, he believed that his life was in danger. Appellant sought, but was refused, instructions on voluntary manslaughter based on imperfect self-defense and a sudden quarrel or heat of passion."

There is some rather interesting arguments being made for the retention of the hate crime enhancement for this brown on black gang crime. This case is a useful read if only for the citations used in support of the gang and hate crime enhancements.

Read the entire opinion here.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Asset seizure funds used to buy FVA equipment

This just in from the Kane County Chronicle: "The St. Charles Police Department’s new video evidence processing system has, in its first six months of use, helped police solve a burglary and armed robbery by enhancing surveillance video.

But the department would not have been able to afford the equipment if it hadn’t been for a 2009 traffic stop leading to arrests that, through a drug asset seizure of confiscated funds, eventually netted the department more than $20,000, Deputy Chief Dave Kintz said.

“Without having access to a seizure like that, I can guarantee you we would not be able to make that purchase for several years,” he said.

Officials of other law enforcement agencies in the Tri-Cities agree that asset forfeitures can help maximize their departments’ limited budgets since, officials said, the money can be spent on drug enforcement, overtime, training and other public safety items.

“It puts us in a position where we don’t have to put those things in our budget,” Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez said.

Geneva Police Cmdr. Julie Nash said, however, that asset forfeitures is not an area her department depends on.

“It is very unpredictable,” she said in an e-mail. “Therefore, it would not be fiscally responsible to count on something that cannot be guaranteed.”

Indeed. Kintz said the $20,000 seizure was unusual for St. Charles. Credit goes to the officer who stopped the vehicle for not having a valid registration, he said.

“That was a tremendous job on the officer’s part to notice that,” Kintz said.

Perez and other officials said law enforcement agencies are limited to seizing money from drug arrests until a Cook County court case that challenges the legality of vehicle seizures is finalized.

Before that case, Perez said, the sheriff’s department also would generate money by selling seized cars and would add such vehicles to its undercover fleet ..."

Continue reading the story by clicking here.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Getting Text Out of a PDF file: Copy vs Export

This just in from Adobe's Joel Geraci: "Basically, “Copy with Formatting” and “Export Selection” won’t give you the same results; they were not designed to. “Copy with Formatting” formats the text as a continuous stream; text in multiple columns will not be preserved as columns for example. This was by design and the intention is to help paste content into an existing file that may formatted somewhat differently. Export a selection will attempt to preserve the content as it appears in the PDF file, including content position.

Here are a few tips to help you decide which method to use when reusing content from a PDF file.

Use “Copy with Formatting” when copying small amounts of text or simple content (text and a few images). This allows you to paste content inline to existing content. It allows you to “match destination formatting” when pasting into Word, for example.

Use “Export Selection” for complex content containing inline images and vector art or when you explicitly want to preserve the relative positioning of all content.

Finally, “Copy with Formatting” may be slightly slower since it needs to put multiple formats onto the clipboard."

Enjoy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Generic Guideline for Disk Setup

Many PC users like to build their own machines, maximizing purchasing power and performance. I get the occasional question on the amount of hard drives and the location of various files for max performance with Photoshop and other Adobe products.

I've found that this thread, over at the Adobe Forums, offers a good starting point and clear summary on this issue.

Enjoy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cell phone may be searched incident to arrest

This just in: "California holds that a cell phone text message folder can be seized incident to arrest, 90 minutes into the arrest finding “binding Supreme Court authority,” albeit cases from the '70's before cell phones were even imagined. The police arrested the defendant after listening to an ecstacy sale on a wire. The cell phone was removed from his person. At the police station, the officer manipulated the phone to find the text message folder which had incriminating messages. People v. Diaz, 51 Cal. 4th 84 (January 3, 2011).

Click here for more information.

Enjoy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cuts could cost county lab its accreditation

Be careful when making blanket cuts to personnel and services, as this story from the Buffalo News illustrates: "The Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office is in danger of losing state and national accreditations unless lawmakers restore jobs cut from this year’s budget.

The jobs, part of the county’s Toxicology Laboratory, were eliminated as part of the 2011 budget proposed by County Executive Chris Collins and approved by the Legislature.

County officials have since learned that the budget cuts could result in the American Board of Forensic Toxicology and the State Commission on Forensic Science pulling its accreditations, an action that could diminish the laboratory’s credibility in criminal investigations and prosecutions.

“It needs to be corrected and should never have happened in the first place,” said Legislator Lynn M. Marinelli, D-Town of Tonawanda.

Marinelli said she warned the Collins administration and fellow lawmakers during budget deliberations that, while the Medical Examiner’s Office is not a high-profile department, it does provide important community services.

The Collins administration, which has taken steps to restore the two jobs, as well as two others in the county Health Department, said the potential loss of accreditation was never raised when it first proposed the budget.

The administration also anticipated grant money to help fund one of the two toxicology jobs, something that never materialized.

“When you eliminate 410 positions to right-size county government and protect taxpayers, it is both reasonable and expected that minor adjustments will have to made once you are operating under the new budget,” said Collins spokesman Grant Loomis.

Loomis also noted that the restoration of the four jobs is being accomplished within the Health Department’s existing budget."

Enjoy.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

5 Free PDF Readers Compared

I get notes from folks asking about the difference between Adobe's PDF products and the free PDF creators and readers out there. By way of answering, here's a review of 5 free PDF readers from Appligent's Duff Johnson.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Which graphics card to use for Premiere Pro CS5 on Mac Pro?

With the release of Premiere Pro CS5 and the news of the Mercury Playback Engine, Mac Pro users have been scrambling to find a compatible GPU to take advantage of this revolutionary new technology.

Adobe's Terry White gives us the tip of the year, you'll want to pick up the Nvidia Quadro 4000.

Check out his review here.

Here's what the Videoguys had to say about it whilst giving it the number 4 spot in their Top Ten products of 2010: "When Adobe worked with NVIDIA to create the CS5 Mercury Playback Engine, they made it more important than ever to choose the best graphics board for your NLE workstation. In the past, when manufacturers required special graphics cards, they were often extremely expensive. Now, the NVIDIA Quadro 4000 by PNY is an incredibly powerful board for under $1,000 and it's available for either PC or Mac! While the Quadro4000 Mac costs a little more than it's PC brother, it is substantially less expensive than any other Quadro board ever offered for Mac.

The Quadro 4000 is based on NVIDIA's Fermi technology, which is the next generation of their CUDA technology. This is an understatement, it's more like CUDA on steroids. The Fermi/CUDA power allows software vendors to tap directly into the GPUs many processing cores. The Quadro 4000 has a whopping 256 CUDA Parallel Processing Cores to go along with it's 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Think about that, it's like having a dedicated graphics workstation on a card. The folks at Adobe jumped on this and other software manufacturers in the content creation and encoding business are following along. When you put a Quadro 4000 in your PC or Mac workstation, you're making sure that you'll have the GPU CUDA performance to take full advantage of these new performance enhancements as they become available in more and more applications."

Enjoy.

Nurses bring a touch of CSI to ER

From the Times Colonist: "Beaten and emotionally traumatized, victims of assault, particularly sexual assault, can present a difficult challenge for medical practitioners and police investigators.

While nurses and doctors work to begin the healing of physical and psychological injuries, police and the legal establishment want evidence to be properly collected and preserved.

But in Victoria, about 15 nurses have signed up to work as forensic nurses, helping to meet both sets of challenges.

The nurses are specially trained to deal with a victim's medical trauma, but, at the same time, can gather key evidence that can put the assailant in prison.

Originally they were known strictly as sexual assault nurse examiners. Now they favour the broader term of forensic nurse because they can also collect evidence in cases such as child abuse.

"I'm the CSI [crime scene investigator] in the ER," jokes forensic nurse Janet Kalnan, co-ordinator of the program in Victoria.

The program started in 1996, following others launched on the Lower Mainland. The nurses, trained in forensics, perform regular work in various departments, such as emergency or recovery room, but are on call to report within 30 minutes to Victoria General Hospital to assist the victim of a sexual assault. The first priority given to the victim is always medical care. It is provided on a one-to-one basis and can last for several hours.

"It's our patient, and it's the only patient we look after at that particular time," Kalnan said.

The forensic work involves preparing a "traumagram." Checking from head to toe, injuries such as scrapes or bruises are noted, described and documented on a "map" of the patient's body. Observations of mood and demeanour are also recorded.

Samples, like swabs from various parts of the body, are taken. Any substance or smear that might provide a DNA match to a suspect is collected. The victim's blood and urine is collected to be tested for drugs and alcohol. Foreign material, such as twigs in the hair, are collected and packaged.

Samples are marked, recorded and preserved in a cooler. But to be valid legal evidence, the movements and whereabouts of samples must be tracked and recorded. It must be noted who collected a sample and when, who received it next, who transported it and when it arrived in the secure area where it was set in a cooler.

Records of the handling of evidence is crucial to any court case so nobody can argue that it has been tampered with.

"This is how you maintain a chain of custody," Kalnan said. "You can't just throw it in a box and put it in the back cupboard and walk way from it."

The forensic nurse can restore a sense of autonomy and control to a victim by offering options to evidence collection and police involvement. The victim can elect to have no police involvement and no forensic examination. Or he or she can involve police immediately in the forensic examination, and officers will document the crime.

If it seems too intimidating to make statements to police and begin the legal process, a victim can put the decision off for days or weeks, even months.

The forensic nurse will store evidence for up to a year. Victims may prefer to make up their own minds whether to talk to police once they are more emotionally stable.

Providing such options, particularly for a victim of sexual assault, goes a huge distance in helping rebuild a traumatized individual, said Tracy Lubick, resource development manager for the Victoria Women's Sexual Assault Centre ..."

Click here to continue reading the story.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Forensic Magazine highlights Digital Lab design

The latest issue of Forensic Magazine has hit the streets. In this issue, Digital Forensics lab design takes centre stage.

"...Video Examination, with the increasing ease in digitally manipulating photo images, there is a significant need for mathematical and computational algorithms to aid forensic examiners to detect tampering in digital media. Video itself has always been a ground- breaking weapon against crime, but now even poor-quality videos can be enhanced to provide even more valuable data through an extremely powerful, yet cost-effective, toolset for forensic video enhancement.

Lighting control is the primary requirement for the design of a video examination space, which should include dimmable lighting and variable light quality sources. In order to enhance the concentration ability of the examiner, the space should be acoustically controlled, yet not to the extent required for digital audio analysis ..."

"... The examination of digital audio media necessitates an acoustically isolated space to allow the examiner to concentrate on the evidence without any interference from outside noise ..."

Read the entire article by clicking here.

Enjoy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Where's the Typewriter Tool in Acrobat X?

Many folks have upgraded to Acrobat X. A recent bunch of comments surrounds the missing Typewriter Tool. Adobe's Rick Borstein helps solve the mystery of the missing tool. Click here to find out where it went.

Enjoy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

UK Government Cuts Forensic Service

From Nature.com: "Forensic research faces a grim future in England and Wales, warn UK forensic scientists. Their gloomy prediction followed hot on the heels of the UK government's decision to wind down the Forensic Science Service (FSS).

The FSS is a government-owned company headquartered in Birmingham that sells its services to customers including police forces in England and Wales. The government has now promised to sell off as much of its operations as possible to the private sector. Although it had previously been suggested that the company would be privatized, it is currently losing £2 million (US$3 million) a month, and a recent National Audit Office report put its value at "a nominal figure of £1,000" in 2008–09 — down from £67 million in 2007–08.

Forensic researchers and practitioners are already expressing concerns about the demise of the FSS. "There is a real dearth of finance available for forensic research in the UK anyway," says Sue Black, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Dundee. Black notes that academics were able to team up with the FSS when applying for research grants. This week's announcement "leaves us with research partners thin on the ground", she says ..."

To continue reading this article, click here.

Enjoy.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Free Adobe Captivate Training Sessions

From Adobe.com: "For some time now, we’ve been getting requests for training on Captivate- ‘delivered by Adobe’. Starting February, we are rolling out a Captivate training program. This will consist of in-depth 90 minute sessions, conducted via the Adobe Connect virtual classroom. These sessions have been put together by our in house trainers. Each session will be facilitated by two Adobe trainers (to ensure that you get more one-on-one attention).

This training program is targeted towards the relative new comers to Captivate. It will cover the core eLearning authoring workflows for which you use Captivate- including application capture, transforming Powerpoints into interactive eLearning, Quizzing, Publishing to your LMS, and adding Audio narration.

The best part- this training program is absolutely free. But we do have a limit on the number of people that can attend a session, hence please ensure that you register at the earliest.

The plan is to have one session every month. We might increase the frequency, or have repeat sessions, depending on the demand. The first session scheduled for February 24th , 9AM US Pacific Time, is on Application Capture. More details on the session, and the link for registration can be found here."

As an interesting aside, the training videos that I made for the Book were done in Captivate.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Melendez-Diaz hits traffic court

From theNewspaper.com: "California courts continue to find the evidence provided by photo enforcement citations to be lacking. In both Orange, and San Mateo Counties, appellate division judges found the images presented in court by private vendors to be inadmissible hearsay. Late last month, Kern County joined the growing number of jurisdictions troubled by the quality of traffic camera evidence packages.

On January 19, 2010, Judge Charles R. Brehmer found a motorist guilty after reviewing the material provided by Redflex Traffic Systems, the for-profit company in charge of automated ticketing in America. The evidence consisted of a video, photographs and a declaration from Redflex regarding the manner in which the material was collected. The appellate judge was not impressed by its trustworthiness as the exception to the hearsay rule only applies to government employees.

"The custodian of records works for a private company, which installs and services red light cameras," Judge Colette Humphrey wrote in a December 23 ruling. "The witness who testified at trial was unable to establish the method and time of preparation of the evidence offered so as to indicate its trustworthiness. Therefore, the people failed to establish the foundation necessary for the admission of the video and photographs."

Because the lower court improperly admitted the evidence, Judge Humphrey overturned the decision and barred the state from attempting to refile charges on the grounds that there had been "significant prejudice to the appellant." Similarly, a three-judge panel of the appellate division of the Orange County Superior Court strengthened its decision on December 27. The court considered a case where a police officer offered expert testimony more comprehensive than previously attempted.

Nonetheless, citing the Melendez-Diaz case from the US Supreme Court, the Orange County judges found that motorists had not relinquished their right to confront their accuser. The actual accuser, a Redflex employee, did not appear in court, "Section 1553 sets forth a presumption that a printed representation of a digitally stored image is an accurate representation of the image it purports to represent, but that presumption is rebutted in this case as to exhibit 1 by the people's own evidence that the photos in that exhibit were 'derived from' (i.e., were enhanced/altered/modified from) the photos contained in Exhibit 3," Presiding Judge Gregory H. Lewis wrote ..."

To continue reading this story, click here.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mercury, CUDA, and what it all means

This just in from Adobe Forums: 'Mercury Playback Engine' is a name for a large number of performance improvements in Premiere Pro CS5. Those improvements include the following:

- 64-bit application
- multithreaded application
- processing of some things using CUDA

Everyone who has Premiere Pro CS5 has the first two of these. Only the third one depends on having a specific graphics card.

Confusingly---because of one of our own early videos that was just plain unclear---a lot of people think that 'Mercury' just refers to CUDA processing. This is wrong. To see that this was not the original intent, you need look no further than the project settings UI strings 'Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration' and 'Mercury Playback Engine Software Only', which would make no sense if 'Mercury' meant "hardware" (i.e., CUDA) ..."

Click here for more information.

Enjoy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Making Actions Happen with the Script Events Manager

A few folks asked the same question recently. How do I get actions to launch when I perform certain actions? The answer is simple, you need the Scripts Event Manager.

I have one action that duplicates the background layer of a document when it opens. This is run from the Scripts Event Manager. There are other things you could script depending on the work flow.

Check out this YouTube video which will show you all that you need to know about this handy tool.

Enjoy.