Jason Beckert Speaks at Cook County Public Defender’s Seminar

Jason Beckert Microtrace Hair and GSR

Last Wednesday, 31 August 2016, Microtrace scientist Jason Beckert spoke to an assemblage of public defense attorneys at the tenth annual conference, “Indigent Defense: Three Days in a Nutshell,” in Oakbrook, Illinois. The seminars, which were hosted by the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, gathered 300 attorneys for presentations and discussions on a wide-range of subjects, from murder investigations and complex felonies to child protection, juvenile, and misdemeanor cases. Jason spoke on “Exploring the Applications and Limitations of Trace Evidence Analysis with an Emphasis on Microscopical Hair Comparisons and Gun Shot Residue Analysis.” Drawing from Microtrace’s wealth of experience testifying in criminal proceedings for both the prosecution and the defense, he familiarized attorneys with the basic protocols, methods of analysis and interpretation, and important aspects of testimony of two important sub-disciplines of trace evidence analysis: hair analysis and gun shot residue analysis.


This presentation will draw from our experiences reviewing, analyzing, and testifying in matters of trace evidence for both the prosecution and the defense. While the basic premise, that all contacts may leave a trace, is relatively straightforward, details of sample collecting, handling, analysis, and the interpretation that stem from this premise are technical, and can be laced with subtlety. Further complicating matters is the fact that the process of testimony often brings out restatements of conclusions, analogies, hypotheticals, and other examples that may not be wholly consistent with the written word of the peer-reviewed report. Attorneys with a fundamental understanding of the trace evidence relevant to their case will be in a good position to provide counsel to their clients and/or appropriately cross examine expert witnesses.

While this presentation will address various types of trace evidence, a focus will be placed on microscopical hair comparisons and gunshot residue (GSR) analyses. These subjects represent two of the more commonly encountered trace evidence sub-disciplines. A variety of topics will be discussed including laboratory protocols, sampling considerations, technical aspects of the analysis, interpretation, and testimony. Participants will have the opportunity, and will be encouraged, to ask questions about any of these topics.

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