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FACULTY (subject to change)
Paul Bieber (San Jose, CA)
Paul Bieber is the founder and director of the Arson Research Project. He is a criminal and forensic investigator specializing in fire and death scene investigations and a certified fire and explosion investigator (CFEI). Paul is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Eastern Kentucky University, teaching Principles of Criminal Investigation in the Fire, Arson and Explosion Investigation program and consults with Innocence Projects and public defender offices nationally on cases involving arson and fire investigation. He is the published author of articles concerning advances in arson research with a focus on the reliability of forensic methodologies, the influence of cognitive bias and the application of the scientific method in fire investigation. For the past thirteen years, across the United States and Canada, he has studied, taught and testified to the science and practice of fire and arson investigation.
C. Justin Brown (Baltimore, MD)
C. Justin Brown is an attorney based in Baltimore, Maryland. He handles a wide variety of complex cases, from federal criminal defense to civil matters to white collar defense. He has successfully defended white collar and criminal defense clients, and litigated civil rights claims on behalf of plaintiffs. He currently represents Adnan Syed, the subject of the podcast “Serial,” and he has successfully obtained a remand that will bring Syed’s case back to Baltimore City Circuit Court. Some of Mr. Brown's recent successes include: the suppression of a federal wire tap, several post-conviction victories in U.S. District Court that resulted in vacated sentences, not-guilty trial verdicts, the granting of coram nobis petitions resulting in vacated convictions, and the negotiation of a deal in a money structuring case allowing the client to avoid prosecution. He has also handled numerous matters in which he was able to convince prosecutors to either not seek criminal charges or drop already existing charges. Mr. Brown brings a unique background to his law practice. Prior to entering the legal profession, he was a print journalist who worked for several national publications, including The New York Times, Newsweek and The Christian Science Monitor. He covered a full range of major news stories, including the war in Kosovo, Yugoslavia. In 1998 he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his war reporting. In 1994 he won the New York State Bar Association media award for a 3-month investigation into the most dangerous hotel in New York City. He is currently a member of the advisory board of The Champion, a publication put out by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Doug Carner (Van Nuys, CA)
Doug Carner is an audio, video and image enhancement and authentication expert. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa, holds several industry certifications, serves on the American Board of Recorded Evidence, and has processed evidence in thousands of cases worldwide. Mr. Carner's forensic career has spanned nearly every jurisdiction and case type, including high-profile cases, military deaths, train crashes, arson, murder, rape, 911 calls, excessive use of force, industrial accidents, slip-n-fall, theft, custody cases, and airline disasters. Mr. Carner has been featured in legal and trade publications, and upon radio and television. His work is widely praised by both defense and prosecution for aiding in a quick settlement, and his expert opinions have helped to exonerate the innocent and discredit junk science. As a respected industry educator and innovator, he lectures for the International Association for Identification and American College of Forensic Examiners Institute, and was a keynote speaker at the International Conference on Forensic Research and Technology. Mr. Carner is an active creator and contributor to advanced forensic software used by thousands of analysts and agencies internationally. In his spare time, Mr. Carner donates to innocence projects, the restoration of historical recordings, and heading the world's largest audio-video forensic collaboration forum.
Tara Godoy (Livermore, CA)
Tara Godoy is a Certified Forensic Nurse and Legal Nurse Consultant who has been working Criminal and Civil Attorneys for over 5 years. She has a BS in Nursing from the University of Southern California and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Through consulting and testimony she has assisted criminal attorneys in obtaining an honest and fair resolution in hundreds of criminal cases. Her consulting firm has 6 RN’s and 3 MD’s and has consulted on criminal cases in 17 states and has worked at both the federal and state levels. Tara has been asked to present for national organizations such as the NACDL and the NDIA at their Forensics conferences in Las Vegas in addition to being an instructor for the Orange County Coroner’s Office Death Investigator Course twice yearly. Tara’s specialty areas include medical record analysis, medically acceptable blood draws, child abuse, gunshot wounds, strangulation and blunt force trauma.
Jerry Grant (Rochester, NY)
Mr. Grant is an AccessData Certified Examiner, Cellebrite Certified Logical Operator, systems analyst, programmer and trainer with more than 25 years of experience involving digital forensics, cell site analysis, social site investigations, eDiscovery and litigation support. He has been involved in many state and federal cases and has been qualified as an expert. He is currently an Independent Digital Forensics Investigator/Consultant, and also a Digital Forensics Investigator for the Western District of New York Federal Public Defender’s Office. He was previously the Computer Systems Administrator for the NYW Federal Public Defender’s Office, as well as the Acting Chief, National IT LAN Application and Policy Support Team for the Administrative Office of the United States Courts - Office of Defender Services. He oversees the NYW automation program, and is involved in national IT/digital forensic support for the Federal Defender Organization. He specializes in computer forensics, cell phone forensics, cell site analysis, e-mail analysis, social media investigations, eDiscovery, litigation support and training. He performs forensic investigations on digital evidence involved in State and Federal Cases. He is based out of the Western District of New York but travels frequently around the country. He is involved with many projects related to digital forensics and litigation support. He lectures frequently at national and local conferences and conducts independent and group training. He is a graduate of Bryant and Stratton Business Institute with an AS Degree in computer programming. He is also the recipient of many certificates in forensics, specialized computer training and programming. He has extensive knowledge of digital forensics, computers, operating systems, mobile devices and cell site analysis.
Karen A. Newirth (New York, NY)
Karen A. Newirth is the Senior Staff Attorney in the Innocence Project’s Strategic Litigation Unit. Karen is responsible for all aspects of the Innocence Project’s work in the area of eyewitness misidentification, the leading contributing cause of wrongful convictions. This work includes strategic litigation, litigation training, public education and policy advocacy. Ms. Newirth is a graduate of Brown University, magna cum laude and with honors, and New York University School of Law. Following law school, Ms. Newirth clerked for Judge Whitman Knapp of the Southern District of New York. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Ms. Newirth was an associate at the law firms of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton and Brafman & Associates, P.C., where she represented individuals in all phases of state and federal criminal investigations and prosecutions. Ms. Newirth is an adjunct professor of law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She previously served as the Chair of the Criminal Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of New York (2009-2012) and a member of the Board of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (2010-2012).
John P. Niland (Covington, KY)
John Niland was Regional Manager of the Western Region for the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy (DPA) and the Directing Attorney for DPA’s Bowling Green office. He moved to Texas in 2000 and founded Texas Defender Service’s Capital Trial Project where he served as its director for over 12 years. His awards include the Robert Louis Cohen Award given by the New York Criminal Bar Association and the Niland-Wischkaemper Award given by the Center for American and International Law. John is retired and lives with his wife, Darlene, in Covington, Kentucky.
Tim Palmbach (New Haven, CT)
In 2004, Timothy Palmbach joined the faculty of the University of New Haven as an Associate Professor and Director of the Forensic Science Program. The program has both undergraduate and graduate offerings in all aspects of forensic science and crime scene investigation. He has been associated with the faculty of the University since 1984 and is a Fellow of the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science. Recently, he created the Center for Forensic Investigation of Trafficking in Persons at UNH. Prior to his tenure at UNH, Prof. Palmbach was a Major in the Connecticut State Police where he was the Commanding Officer/Director of the Division of Scientific Services for the Department of Public Safety. He had general jurisdiction over the affairs of Division of Scientific Services, including the Forensic Science Laboratory, Controlled Substance & Toxicology Laboratory and the Computer Crime & Electronic Evidence Unit. Major Palmbach has worked closely with Dr. Henry C. Lee, Chief Emeritus, in case review and preparation of Crime Scene Reconstruction Reports. He also served as Chief of Staff for the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, and as a Crime Scene Analyst for nearly 10 years. While with the Connecticut State Police, Major Palmbach managed complex murder, serial killer, kidnapping, robbery and other assorted criminal investigations and processed over 300 crime scenes. In addition, he currently works as an expert witness is crime scene reconstruction disciplines, including blood stain analysis and reconstruction of shooting incidents. He is co-author of Henry Lee’s Crime Scene Handbook published by Academic Press. He has also written numerous articles on areas of forensic science ranging from bite marks to DNA analysis. He has lectured extensively on Shooting and Crime Scene Reconstruction, and many other assorted topics related to forensic science throughout the Unites States and abroad. He received his Juris Doctor in 1998 from the University of Connecticut School of Law. His Masters Degree is in Forensic Science with a Criminalistics concentration from the University of New Haven. He received his undergraduate BS degree in Forensic Science and Chemistry also from the University of New Haven in 1982.
Honorable Christopher Plourd (San Diego, CA)
Christopher J. Plourd was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to Superior Court in Imperial County California in December 2011. Prior to his judicial appointment Judge Plourd had been a certified criminal law specialist sole practitioner with his law firm, The Law Offices of Christopher J. Plourd, located in San Diego and El Centro, California. Judge Plourd belongs to numerous legal and scientific organizations. Judge Plourd is a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Jurisprudence section, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Forensic Odontology, the California Judges Association and the American Judges association. Before his appointment to the bench Judge Plourd was a member of the State Bar of California, the San Diego County Bar Association, and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. Christopher J. Plourd had been a practicing litigation attorney for over thirty one year’s specializing in cases involving Forensic Scientific Evidence. Judge Plourd engaged extensively in scientific evidence consulting in legal matters involving forensic DNA identity testing throughout the United States and was considered one of a handful of attorneys in the United States who was proficient in the use of forensic DNA technologies. In addition to DNA evidence Judge Plourd had considerable experience in cases involving Bite Mark identification evidence, Forensic Pathology and Blood Spatter evidence. Judge Plourd was frequently asked to appear on television and radio programs to comment upon DNA and other Forensic scientific evidence. In 1998 Judge Plourd received an appointment by the Chairman of the United States Department of Justice’s National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence to a technical working group on Crime Scene Evidence Collection. The Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence was a National commission chartered by United States Attorney General, Janet Reno, to develop national policy and recommendations regarding the use of forensic DNA evidence so as to maximize its value in the American Criminal Justice System. In April of 2003, Judge Plourd was appointed by Sarah V. Hart, Director of the National Institute of Justice, to a United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs Working Group on Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court. In February of 2005, Judge Plourd was appointed by Ronald M. George, Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, to membership on the California Judicial Counsel of California’s Science and Law Steering Committee. In July of 2014 Judge Plourd was appointed to be a member of the Organization of Scientific Area Committee (OSAC) Legal Resource Committee by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The Forensic Science Standards Board (FSSB) named Judge Plourd to be chairman of the eleven members Legal Resource Committee for the OSAC. In August of 2014 Judge Plourd was elected to serve as the presiding Judge of the Superior Court, County of Imperial.
Kevin Sali (Lake Oswego, OR)
Kevin Sali is a criminal defense attorney in Portland, Oregon. Before beginning his legal career, Mr. Sali spent four years as a high school science teacher and then earned a graduate degree in biochemistry. As an attorney, he has taken a particular interest in cases involving scientific and other technical evidence. Mr. Sali has worked with complex forensic evidence in cases involving allegations ranging from environmental violations to capital murder. He is a frequent speaker and writer on this topic, with his writings including Scientific Evidence: A Manual for Oregon Defense Attorneys. In 2015, Mr. Sali was appointed to a workgroup established by Oregon Governor Kate Brown to address recently disclosed issues with the Oregon State Police Crime Laboratory.
Marvin Schechter (New York, NY)
Marvin Schechter has been a criminal defense attorney for 42 years based in New York City. His diverse caseload has included every conceivable (and some inconceivable) crimes from parking tickets to homicides and representing homeless persons to corporate officials. Mr. Schechter served nine years on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). He was a member of the NACDL Task Force on DNA Searching which made recommendations approved by the NACDL Board of Directors governing the use of partial and familial match searches by law enforcement. He is a past chairperson of the New York State Bar Association’s (NYSBA) Criminal Justice Section Executive Committee for 2011-2013 (NYSBA CJS). He co-authored “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward,” issued by the National Research Council and is a member of the New York State Commission on Forensic Science. Mr. Schechter was a co-chair of the NACDL’s Problem-Solving Courts Task Force which issued a report entitled “America’s Problem Solving Courts: The Criminal Costs of Treatment and the Case for Reform.” Since February, 2009, Mr. Schechter has conducted numerous lectures on forensic discipline problems, including speeches addressing the problems of forensic technician testimony, laboratory accreditation, discovery and forensic cross-examination. He was the Attorney-in-Charge at the New York City Legal Aid Society's Criminal Division, Kings County from 1992 - 1994. He has been an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School, has conducted training for the NYS Office of Court Administration and the Attorneys for Children Programs of the NYS Appellate Division (3d Dept.). Mr. Schechter’s was a founding co-chair of the National College of Forensic Science, a joint effort of the NACDL and the Cardozo Law School, dedicated to training attorneys across the United States in forensic sciences and related legal issues.
Laura Schile (Sun City, AZ)
As a nationally renowned expert, Laura has more than 20 years of experience in research and the forensic sciences. She is court qualified as an expert in DNA analysis, serology, crime scene investigation, evidence collection and handling, and hair comparison. Laura has worked with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson research center, The Texas Department of Public Safety, and as the DNA Lab Manager for the Oklahoma City Police Department. Her most recent affiliation was with the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, consulting on all aspects of the forensic sciences in relation to trial and appeal processes. Laura is ASCLD certified as a technical leader, and a member of various professional organizations. Laura’s comprehensive mix of knowledge and experience enables her to advise on how to use many different types of information and evidence to support a competent defense or effective prosecution. Based on case review, she will recommend strategies for witness interviews, inclusion, exclusion or further testing of evidence, court testimony or other expert assistance.
Edward J. Ungvarsky (Arlington, VA)
Edward J. Ungvarsky is a career public defender who heads the Northern Virginia Capital Defender Office in Arlington, Virginia. Ed frequently lectures and teaches on issues related to forensic science evidence and expert testimony, the death penalty, trial advocacy, and ethics in defense representation. Ed is a former NACDL Director; Chair of the NACDL Task Force on the Future of Forensic Science; and long-time member of the Forensic Science, Forensic Disciplines, and Death Penalty Committees. Ed has served on the faculties of National College of Capital Voir Dire, NACDL's Making the Case for Life, NLADA's Life in the Balance, Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy's Death Penalty Institute, Harvard Law School's Trial Advocacy Workshop, and Gideon's Promise Core 101 Program. Ed created and teaches a graduate-level seminar on the Death Penalty and Mitigation at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. Ed received the 2014 NLADA Kutak-Dodds Award for his extraordinary work for justice over his career.