Digital Evidence Part I: The Investigative Stage — Recognition, Collection, Search

This two-part webinar series presented by the Denver District Attorney’s Office, in partnership with AEquitas, explores the scope of data available from sources of digital evidence and strategies on how such data can effectively be developed with forensically-sound practices. Presenters discuss theories of admission, rules of evidence, and “real life” examples to demonstrate how to properly authenticate and introduce digital evidence in court proceedings. Part I of the series explores the different types and sources of electronic data that are available to investigators; how such data can be properly collected, regardless of whether it is in a physical device or electronic records; and methods to facilitate searching and seizing data.

Funding Opportunity: Innovative Prosecution Solutions FY’20

The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) will be offering funding to state and local prosecutor’s offices for its FY’20 Innovative Prosecution Solutions for Combating Violent Crime (IPS) initiative. The IPS program supports prosecutor-led strategies for responding to violent crime and enhancing public safety.

Join BJA and AEquitas, the lead Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) provider on the IPS initiative, for a webinar on the upcoming solicitation. It will include a discussion of application eligibility and the application process, program requirements, and examples of previously successful proposals.

Justice in the Time of COVID-19: Strategic Responses

Social distancing and quarantine measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have affected all aspects of our society, including the judicial system. While these public health measures are necessary to keep our communities safe and healthy, court closures and subsequent delays in case processing, as well as other social distancing measures, will require criminal justice professionals to adapt in order to continue holding offenders accountable while protecting their rights; meeting victim/witness needs; and maintaining public safety.

This panel discussion, featuring Nancy O’Malley, District Attorney of Alameda County, CA; Ed McCann, First Assistant District Attorney of Montgomery County, PA; and Sherry Boston, District Attorney of DeKalb County, GA, as well as AEquitas Attorney Advisors, will provide practical perspectives to help guide prosecutors and other criminal justice system actors through the broad scope of issues raised by COVID-19; current responses from prosecutor’s offices around the country; and logistical and legal strategies for ensuring justice while social distancing measures remain in place. Topics will include (but aren’t limited to) implications on constitutional and statutory rights; challenges in processing, collecting, and testing crucial evidence; jail overcrowding and requests for bail; and the continuity of victim/witness services.

Improving Witness Safety and Preventing Witness Intimidation in the Justice System – Benchmarks for Progress

The pervasive problem of victim/witness intimidation in the criminal justice system requires a strategy for change and firm commitments from leaders and practitioners alike. This resource includes tools for practitioners to use collaboratively within their communities. These tools provide criminal justice leaders with concrete guidance to implement best practices in preventing and responding to witness intimidation. The resource defines the problem, identifies concrete solutions, and outlines a process for assessing and improving witness safety.


Evading Justice: The Pervasive Nature of Witness Intimidation

Acts of witness intimidation range from the crude to the complex and, when successful, evade the purview of the justice system, which allows the criminal behavior to continue unchecked. The pervasive nature of these crimes is devastating to victims and to community confidence in the justice system’s ability to keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable. Criminal justice professionals, community leaders, and researchers have declared witness intimidation a national concern and a challenge to the administration of justice. This article discusses how to recognize intimidation and reduce its impact on the criminal justice system through education, documentation and other preventive measures. The authors also offer effective investigation and prosecution strategies.


AEquitas: Established to Promote Justice in Violence Against Women Prosecution

The criminal justice system is a critical resource for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and dating violence. As experienced prosecutors recognize, the concept of justice must also consider the victim’s safety, experience, and perspective. In order to provide the nation’s prosecutors with the support, information, training, mentorship, and resources necessary to objectively evaluate and constantly refine the prosecution of violence against women, several former prosecutors, a forensic nurse, and two national technical assistance providers created AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women.


Protecting Children of Domestic Violence Victims with Criminal No-Contact Orders

Prosecutors should understand the legal avenues for keeping children safe throughout the course of a domestic violence case and be prepared to avail themselves of social science research to support their legal arguments. Prosecutors may also need to determine whether they should bring additional charges, argue to increase bail or sentences based on aggravators, and/or file forfeiture by wrongdoing motions to address any ongoing intimidation and harassment by a defendant. This article provides an overview of the legal authority for including children in no-contact orders or for filing additional charges based on threat to their safety. It also provides social science research to support legal arguments to extend no-contact orders to the offender’s children, along with other prosecution strategies to protect children who may be at risk.


10 Strategies for Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse at the Hands of a Family Member

The impact of sexual assault on a victim is devastating and the effects are long lasting. Victims of child sexual abuse may suffer physical injury, depression, self-destructive behavior, anxiety, feelings of isolation and stigma, shame, poor self-esteem, difficulty in trusting others, a tendency toward re-victimization, substance abuse, and sexual maladjustment. When the perpetrator is a family member, victims often suffer the emotional scars of guilt, betrayal and fear as well. Judges and juries unfamiliar with the dynamics of sexual assault may overlook offenders’ grooming tactics or misperceive common victim reactions to abuse as evidence of the victim’s lack of credibility. Prosecutors handling these cases face unique challenges. This article outlines ten strategies that will help prosecutors prepare and litigate cases of sexual abuse perpetrated against a child by a family member.


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.


The Prosecutors’ Resource on Crawford and its Progeny

There are many barriers to victims’ participation in the prosecution of their abusers. When prosecuting a domestic violence case with a non-participating victim (one who either is not in court, or who is in court but is unavailable by reason of refusal to testify, exercise of a privilege, illness, or incompetency) the prosecutor must anticipate a challenge under Crawford v. Washington to the introduction of the victim’s out-of-court statements. Crawford and its progeny are landmark cases that address the admissibility of out-of-court statements in light of an accused’s Sixth Amendment right to confrontation. This Resource focuses on interpretations of the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause under Crawford. The prosecutor must be aware, however, of the simultaneous need to satisfy state evidence rules concerning hearsay. This paper places Crawford in its historical context, presents a framework for analyzing admissibility of out-of-court statements under the Crawford rules, and provides resources, sample questions, and strategy suggestions to assist the prosecutor in satisfying the confrontation requirements under the Sixth Amendment.