A criminal defense attorney defending a case that uses scientific forensic evidence must have the training and experience to properly and expertly challenge or use such evidence. On October 17, 2014 Barton Morris was bestowed the honor of being designated by the American Chemical Society as a “Forensic Lawyer-Scientist”. The American Chemical Society is the largest professional association of scientific endeavors and one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative scientific information. They are also responsible for providing the best quality professional continuing scientific education. The ACS Chemistry and Law Division sponsors scientific educational courses specifically for criminal defense lawyers. There are three courses entitled Hands-On Forensic Chromatography each taught at Axion Analytical Laboratories in Chicago, Illinois which is the only lab that is authorized by the ACS to teach chromatography in the world. The courses teach the following subjects as they relate to forensic evidence:
- The chemical analysis of biological samples for the presence and amount of ethyl alcohol.
- The chemical analysis of drugs in their pre-consumption state for identification and weight.
- The theory of liquid and gas chromatography which is the most utilized chemical analytical tools used in the world.
- The theory of mass spectroscopy which is the gold standard of identifying pure chemical compounds.
- The theory and use of a gas chromatograph in conjunction with a mass spectrometer and flame ionization detector for chemical analysis.
- The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics on the human body of several types of drugs including cannabinoids, opiates, sympathomimetic amines, benzodiazepines, and cocaine.
- The in depth evaluation of government forensic laboratories.
- The chemical analysis of biological samples for the presence and amount of drugs of abuse.
- Analysis techniques including micro and macroscopic examinations, FTIR, Immunoassay, Colorimetric testing, trace detection systems.
- Specific methods and practical strategies in using this education in court to fight criminal cases that depend upon forensic evidence.
There are many types of cases that rely upon forensic evidence. The most notable is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs as the evidence typically requires a forensic examination of blood, breath or urine for the presence and amount of alcohol or drugs. Also, drug cases almost always have a forensic analysis of evidence for identification and weight. Gun and assault cases are often founded upon ballistics and tool mark forensic evaluations. There are many different forensic disciplines including blood spatter, fire investigations, DNA identifications, finger or latent print evidence and questioned documents evaluations. To provide the best defense in criminal cases with these types for evidence a criminal defense attorney must have the education to understand it. If they don’t they will be ineffective at challenging the reliability, accuracy, evidentiary value of this evidence.
Each course consists of a minimum of 30 hours of lecture and hands on laboratory work including sample preparation and instrumental analysis and operation. Because these classes are only offered a few times per year, it has taken Barton Morris over two years to complete all four courses required. Once the courses where completed Barton Morris then had to pass a very tough comprehensive examination which was taken and passed on October 17, 2014. The ACS Lawyer-Scientist designation is the highest professional scientific achievement that exists for lawyers and Barton Morris is very proud to be the first lawyer in Michigan to achieve it. To date there are about 30 in the entire United States. Barton Morris’ ASC Forensic Lawyer-Scientist Designation demonstrates the commitment to being the best criminal defense attorney especially when it comes to cases that rely upon forensic scientific evidence.