Williams v. Illinois and Forensic Evidence – The Bleeding Edge of Crawford

The application of Crawford principles in the context of forensic evidence continues to plague the criminal justice system. The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Williams v. Illinois raises more questions than it answers about when and how an expert may testify to conclusions based upon the opinions or work of other (non-testifying) experts or technicians. This article reviews the relevant case law, and explores how trial prosecutors can present a case involving forensic testing conducted by a multitude of technicians and experts. It also addresses Williams’ impact on cold cases, in which original experts who performed autopsies and other forensic examinations and testing are no longer available for trial. The author provides practical suggestions to trial prosecutors who must balance limited resources against the need to secure convictions that will withstand confrontation challenges on appeal.


Beyond Conviction Rates: Measuring Success in Sexual Assault Prosecutions

Prosecutorial effectiveness is commonly measured by conviction rates, largely because they are readily available. But, are conviction rates an accurate measure of success? Experienced prosecutors know they won’t win every case. In fact, some would argue that if you aren’t losing any cases, you aren’t trying the right ones. This Strategies Newsletter discusses promising sexual assault prosecution strategies as well as ways of measuring effectiveness in ways that do not rely solely upon conviction rates. The article also offers other, more meaningful performance measures, and describes how they can be used to more accurately measure and sustain effective prosecution practices.


Integrating a Trauma-Informed Response in Violence Against Women and Human Trafficking Prosecutions

This Strategies Newsletter describes a trauma-informed approach to responding to these crimes and discusses practices where such an approach has already been incorporated, highlighting areas where continued, additional integration is necessary. This article also identifies gaps in the application of the approach, specifically in reference to other co-occurring, violence against women and human trafficking crimes, and suggests strategies to more effectively integrate trauma-informed investigative and prosecutorial practices.


The Highly Trained Batterer: Prevention, Investigation and Prosecution of Officer-Involved Domestic Violence

This article discusses the dynamics and tactics commonly encountered in officer-involved domestic violence; emphasizes the importance of departmental policies and protocols for prevention of, and response to, violence in the law enforcement family; explains the need for a coordinated, yet firewalled internal investigation that will not compromise the criminal prosecution of the offender; and suggests strategies for investigation and prosecution of officer-involved domestic violence.


Prosecuting Image Exploitation

Image exploitation involves the non-consensual creation, possession, or distribution of an image or images depicting victims engaged in consensual sexual activity or being sexually assaulted. As technology continues to evolve more quickly than the law, image exploitation crimes are being addressed by a patchwork of criminal laws. This Strategies Newsletter gives prosecutors insight on how to respond to this complex crime and to hold offenders accountable under imperfect or untested laws. The article explores the various forms of image exploitation and the types of statutes under which this abuse can be prosecuted.