First, let’s educate all of the lawyers

The great Bard once penned:

All: God save your majesty!

Cade: I thank you, good people—there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score, and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers, and worship me their lord.

Dick: The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.

Cade: Nay, that I mean to do.

Henry The Sixth, Part 2 Act 4, scene 2, 71–78

Shakespeare’s character Dick the Butcher’s idea of a perfect society was one where justice prevailed because there were no lawyers. The traitorous Jack Cade had not so noble a reason for wanting to get rid of all of the lawyers. He wanted to become the autocrat in a quasi-communistic social revolution. Cade alleges that all lawyers do is use laws and language set up by fellow lawyers to oppress and ruin the life of every day man. Therefore, in his estimation, no justice results.

That is an extreme view.

I suggest that perhaps justice best results when we have an educated and organized defense bar who is scientifically educated in forensic science. As I have blogged before, the foren­sic sci­ence com­mu­nity as cur­rently prac­ticed in the United States today is very flawed. Extremely flawed. Fun­da­men­tally flawed. In some cases, if not the major­ity of cases, it is utterly unsci­en­tific. I agree with the sen­ti­ments that the crim­i­nal defense com­mu­nity shares a large por­tion of the blame. Many lawyers well before our times, let come into evi­dence prac­tices, tech­niques, and “the­o­ries” that had just but the very veneer of sci­ence and were, how­ever, any­thing but sci­en­tific and far from valid. This insti­tu­tional prop­a­ga­tion of error is a large hur­dle for many of us to over­come now where busi­ness as usual or sim­ple rep­e­ti­tion is some­how equated with validity.

So what are we to do?

Set up programs where we educate the defense bar.

I would like to highlight one of these: The American Chemical Society Hands-on Forensic Chromatography course.

It is a five-days hands-on class conducted at Axion Analytical Laboratories, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois. This hands-on course is taught by three icons of chromatography (Dr. Harold McNair, PhD, Dr. Lee Polite, PhD and Mr. Lew Fox) and two attorneys who specialize in evaluating chromatography and forensic science related cases (Justin J. McShane and Josh D. Lee).


The agenda includes:

Day 1

8:15am Registration and Snacks
8:30am Introduction to Gas Chromatography
9:30am Inlet Systems for Liquid Injections
10:30am Lab 1: GC Familiarization and Parameters
11:45 Lab Review
12:00pm Lunch
1:00pm Fundamentals of Separation – Resolution
2:30pm GC Theory
3:30pm Capillary Columns
4:30pm Lab 2: Column Installation
6:00pm End of Session
7:30pm Group Dinner

Day 2

8:30am Quantitative Analysis
9:30am Discussion of QC in the Forensic World
10:30am Lab 3: GC Quantitation
12:00pm Lunch
1:00pm Lab Review
2:00pm Headspace GC
4:00pm Lab 4: Headspace Demo
5:00pm End of Session
6:30pm Axion Labs sponsored Group Dinner

Day 3

8:30am GC-MS Theory
10:30am LC-MS Theory
12:00pm Lunch
1:00pm Labs 5-7: Wet Lab –Sample Preparation/ Integration / GC-MS Instrumentation
3:00pm FID Detector
4:00pm Discovery
5:30pm End of Session
7:05pm Sporting event

Day 4

8:30am Ethics
9:30am Lab 8: Walking Down a Case-How to Sort, Identify and Examine Data (Confrontation Clause)
11:00 am General Review of Major Concepts
12:00pm Lunch
1:00pm Defenses That Work
3:00pm Lab 9: Troubleshooting GC Problems
4:30pm Lab 10: Beers and Data Roundtable (Bring your own data set evaluate with your small group)
8:30pm End


Day 5

8:30am Troubleshooting Lab Review
9:00am Cross examination of an Analyst
10:30am Direct Examination of an Expert
12:00pm Trouble Shooting Lab Review
12:30pm Soft stop of the course with general discussion
2:00pm Hard Stop-End of Course

This class attracts full of attorneys from all across the United States. In this class attendees not only are instructed in the classroom theory that underlies chromatography (both liquid and gas chromatography) in general and the specific theories that allow for headspace analysis and how Flame Ionization Detector, UV-DAD and Mass Spectrometry (EI and EC based) works, and get to see the instruments, but they also get to do the following with their own two hands and more:

Hands-on Lab 1

Instrument Familiarization where the attendees preform direct injections into a Gas Chromatograph-Flame Ionization Detector (GC-FID) using EtOH samples, and learn to interpret GC-FID chromatograms, import and manipulate a method, change the different variables on the GC-FID and elucidate the results.

Hands-on Lab 2

The attendees on their own GC machine remove and install capillary columns and all of the components of the injector (septa, liner, gold seal, etc.), check for efficiencies, resolution, theoretical plates, and learn about split versus splitless injector settings.

Hands-on Lab 3

The attendees on their own GC machine establish a calibration curve from CRMs for EtOH. The attendees on their own GC machine analyze the response and program a calibration curve (external standard) and also use the Internal Standard method to assure quality. The attendees on their own GC machine establish methods and reporting of this crucial part of testing.

Hands-on Lab 4

The attendees continue to use Headspace Gas Chromatograph-Flame Ionization Detector and also use Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) system, and use an High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) system.

Hands-on Lab 5

Sample Preparation-sampling versus sample selection is demonstrated. The attendees do their own Pipetting. The attendees do their own control charting. The attendees use volumetric flasks. The attendees learn about pre-analysis error hands-on and how it affects quantification. The attendees are introduced to issues of metrology and Uncertainty Measurement.

Hands-on Lab 6

Integration. The attendees on their own ChemStation workstation learn about integration and how easy it is to manipulate the data. The attendees manipulate their own data. The attendees learn what to look for that shows that the data was manipulated, and the attendees learn how to manipulate data so that it is not discoverable without the raw computer data in the software files.

Hands-on Lab 7

GC-MS Instrumentation. The attendees see how easy life is for an analyst. The attendees get to see the analysis of the raw data on a GC-MS and discover how a true novice can turn into an “expert” with a simple push of a button. The attendees see with their own two eyes the “hidden” data that the Government and its laboratory doesn’t want anyone to see that will reveal the truth that the supposed “gold standard” that provides for the alleged “unequivocal identification” of testing of unknowns that is GC-MS is not perfect.

Hands-on Lab 8

How to Obtain Discovery/Walking Down a Case/Defenses that Win-Advanced Issue Spotting: In this lab, the best practices in how to obtain discovery with a special emphasis on how to strategically and practically build a record so that the attendees can get the raw data in its un-manipulated raw computer form and also in its print form. The attendees go through an actual case that was litigated that featured experts on both sides, and issue spot all of the problems with the discovery and the data as it was presented.

Hands-on Lab 9

Troubleshooting. The attendees on their own GC machine run an unknown sample which may result in some sort of “problem” in the chromatogram. The attendees issue spot the problem and rationalize what is wrong, and fix it.

Hands-on Lab 10

The attendees with their lab partners go over their own data set from real cases to figure out what is wrong with the attendees’ local laboratory.

Graduates of the group include:

Alaska Slone Fred New Jersey Hernandez Steven
Arizona St. Louis Joe New Jersey Levow Evan
California Barba Manny New Mexico Frechette Roderick
California Brehmer Jeremy Oklahoma Edge Bruce
California Ganci Eric Oklahoma Fabian Stephen
California Gorelick Lynn Oklahoma Hosty Tom
California Laundry Virginia Oklahoma Lee (x5)
Josh D.
California Middlebrook Richard Oklahoma Patterson Clint
California Moore Ron Oklahoma Sifers Jeff
California Sturm Craig Oregon Carini, Jr. Peter
California Tiemann Roland Pennsylvania Barrouk Tim
California Wasson James Pennsylvania Manchester Brian
California Wapner Terry Pennsylvania McShane (x6)
Colorado Bussey Tim Pennsylvania Sherman Mike
Colorado Cessna Christopher Tennessee Garza (x2)
Colorado Herringer William Tennessee May Roger
Colorado Savela Jason Tennessee McKinney Rob
Colorado Orr Rhidian Tennessee Ryan Edward
Florida Kessler Mike Texas Balagia Jaime
Florida McIntosh Brett Texas Butler Jim
Georgia Adams Clark Texas Boatwright Nicky
Georgia Babson Rocky Texas Case Kelly
Georgia Caron Brian Texas Coffey Mimi
Georgia Frye Kim Texas de la Paz Brent
Georgia Parman Ann Texas del Cueto Andrew
Georgia Stein George Texas DeLuca Matt
Illinois Ramsell Donald Texas Flood Tyler
Illinois Toney Sarah Texas Grant Deandra
Kansas Hulnick Les Texas Hamilton Stephen
Louisiana Delatte (x2)
Glynn Texas Hunter David
Louisiana Bates, Jr. James Texas McKinney Troy
Maryland Alpert Andrew Texas Murphy Doug
Maryland Bruckheim Michael Texas Ray Bennie
Maryland Stamm Lenny Texas Segura Anthony
Massachusetts Oberhauser Gregory Texas Stauffer Phil
Michigan Boyle Michael Texas Trichter (x2)
Minnesota Ramsay Charles Texas Wilder Douglas
Missouri Eastman Jeffrey Utah Schatz Jason
Missouri Hollingshead Jeremy Virginia Keefer Bob
Missouri Ward Carl Virginia Solak- (x2)
Nebraska Dowding Steve Washington Callahan Linda
Nebraska Island Bell Washington DeBray Ted
Nevada Hayes Dale West Virginia Wagner Harley
New Hampshire Russman Ryan Wisconsin Stuckert Lauren
New Hampshire Tenn John

There have been 89 graduates to date.

The next class (which is full) will be in April is scheduled to have the following folks:

Patrick Maher


Hunter Biederman


Wayne R. Foote


John Hunsucker


Andrew Mishlove


Michael J Snure


Clark Adams (2nd time through)


Andrew Bucher


N. Cole Williams


Jay M. Tiftickjian


Bruce Edge (2nd time through)


Brent de la Paz (2nd time through)


Paul Liam McGlone


Kevin Leckerman


Jon W Woolsey


Gordon Senerius


Nico La Hood


Bryan E DePowell


Joseph Citron


John j Eastland


Jonathon Rands


Shawn Dorward


Jared Bartell


To insure justice, we need to have an educated defense bar. We need more scientific programs like this one.

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