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Introduction to the course

Shreya Rastogi, Project 39A, criminal law, Monash, Eleos Justice, Decoding Forensics for Legal Professionals
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Hello, my name is Shreya Rastogi and on behalf of Project 39A National Law University Delhi, we welcome you to our course- Decoding forensics for legal professionals. Through our collaboration with Eleos Justice at Monash University, we have specially curated the scores for lawyers and judges with the overall aim to understand the science behind forensic science and how it interacts with the law. As a lawyer, prosecutor or judge involved in a criminal trial, there are five main aspects that you are looking to establish. How the crime occurred, when it occurred, where it happened, why was it committed and most importantly, who committed the offence? Different types of forensic evidence can help you answer these crucial questions with varying degrees of certainty.
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However, as a legal professional, you may not know or understand the scientific or technical processes that are used by forensic experts for examining such evidence. Without this knowledge, it would be difficult for you to understand the findings of the forensic reports, examine the forensic experts during trial, or make any sense of how the forensic evidence relates to the questions involved in the criminal trial. While examining the forensic evidence, you should ask what are the scientific principles that the forensic evidence is based on? Can forensic techniques ever go wrong? How reliable are these forensic techniques? What is the scientific basis of the opinion delivered by the expert in your case?
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And finally, how should courts examine the admissibility and weight of such forensic evidence. Without an understanding of these aspects, unlike other pieces of traditional evidence, you will be unable to scrutinize the forensic evidence properly, which will impact the fairness and quality of the criminal trial. Therefore, through this course, we will help you find the answers to all these questions, especially in the context of three forensic disciplines which are medical examination and autopsies, bite mark evidence and forensic DNA profiling. These forensic disciplines are commonly used to investigate a variety of criminal offenses, such as murder, rape, sexual assault, child abuse and armed robberies. So these are some of the important aspects that this course will cover about these forensic disciplines.
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First, what are the basic principles of a post mortem examination? Second, how should medical examination be conducted in case of suspected sexual violence? Third, how are bite marks created and can you use bite marks to identify a person? Fourth, what is the process of forensic DNA profiling and can DNA evidence be used to establish guilt? We will also help you understand the legal standards and procedures that courts follow in examining expert forensic evidence. We will explain the problems and the complications with current forms of legal inquiries and how they can be improved. This course is inspired by Project 39A’s research on forensic science in India and its extensive criminal defense work.
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It will offer special insights for legal professionals and law students in India, but is equally relevant for learners from around the world as it covers many of the common problems faced in several jurisdictions. We have brought together a diverse group of scientific and legal experts from different fields with extensive experience in teaching, practice and research. Along with a series of video lectures, we have put together written materials, quizzes and activities to help you understand these topics better. So thank you for choosing this course and we hope you find it engaging and informative.

Through this course, join us in understanding the scientific principles underlying commonly used forensic disciplines. The course has been specially curated for legal professionals to encourage the examination of forensic evidence through a scientific lens.

Let us know where you’re from and share your experience with forensic science or examining forensic evidence. For a more interactive experience, we encourage you to read the comments from your fellow learners.

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Decoding Forensics for Legal Professionals

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