Js 112 Criminalistics

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JS 112 Criminalistics

  • Welcome and Introductions
    • Steven Lee- Instructor
  • Overview of the course
  • Description- Requirements
  • Small Groups-Your background, interests
  • First “case” assignment- Measurements
  • Introduction to Criminalistics
    • Role of the Crime Scene Investigator
    • Goal of CSI
    • Physical Evidence- Locards Exchange
    • Measurement practice
    • Mock Crime Scene small group activity

My Background

  • Who am I? Scientist, Teacher and Dad
    • Consultant -Director of R&D, Biotech (MiraiBio)
    • Adjunct Prof Chem FIU, Adjunct Prof Biology SFSU
    • Blessed to have been a mentor to my students
    • Husband and Dad to 4
    • Interests: music, running, meditation
  • How did I get here? Research and Teaching Experience
    • CA DOJ DNA (94-99), Adjunct SFSU (96- ), Biology UNC (92-94)
    • SUNYB, AECOM, NYU, Columbia, UCB, UGA
    • Courses: Mol Genetics, Genetics of Forensic DNA typing (UC Davis), Chem. of DNA typing (Web Based- FIU- F 2001, Sp 2003)
  • Forensic Experience? All in DNA
    • CA DOJ DNA Research, Validation and Training
    • Served on TWGDAM 1994-1999
    • AFDIL mtDNA QA, ASCLD-LAB certified, AAFS full member, CAC full member
    • Qualified expert DNA witness

Contact Information

  • Instructor: Dr. Steven Lee, Associate Professor
  • Office MH 521
  • Office Hrs: MW 1445-1615 (W 1615-1715 email)
  • Set 15 minute appointments via email
  • email Steven.Lee@sjsu.edu
  • sblee999@gmail.com
  • Phone 408-924-2948

Overview of the Course

  • Course Description: This course will teach an understanding of the fundamental theories of physical evidence, practically applied; and the legal consideration involved in its recognition, collection, preservation and presentation in court. Physical evidence includes such things as fibers, glass, hair, soil, bullets, fingerprints, and shoeprints. Learn the appropriate methods for processing, securing, and isolating a crime scene. Topics include recording the scene, searching for evidence, decision-making about what evidence is appropriate and necessary to collect, procedures for collecting physical evidence, and maintaining the chain of custody to avoid contamination.

Course Text and materials:

  • Required Text:
    • Criminalistics (10th edition) 2011. Saferstein. Pearson Prentice Hall.
    • Required reading and internet materials:
    • Journal articles and other readings will be accessible at the SJSU library, on reserve or will be accessible on line. Citations and URLs for on line materials will be provided in assignments.
    • NIJ on line documents (eg: Crime scene investigation guidelines http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/nij/178280.pdf, Crime Scene Investigator Web sites- http://www.crime-scene-investigator.net/ and the CA Dept of Justice Physical Evidence Bulletins: http://www.cci.ca.gov/Reference/pehb/peb.html and other web sites will be required.

Course Format:

  • The course will include lectures by the instructor and guest lectures from law enforcment agencies. Discussions, videos, small-group hands-on activities, and hands-on crime scene exercises will also be included throughout the semester. On-line chat sessions if possible will also be offered.

Course requirements:

  • Exams: Three exams will be given in this course. Exams will be cumulative and will include all material covered up to the date of the exam. Exams may include multiple choice, matching, true/false, short answer, diagrams, drawings and sketches, short essay and/or long essay.
  • Exam 1: Wed 03/03/10
  • Exam 2: Wed 04/07/10
  • Final: Mon 05/24/10

Quizzes and CSI exercises

  • Quizzes on assigned readings, laboratories, small group activities and other assigned materials will be given during the semester. These will generally be multiple choice, matching, true/false and short answer but may also include essay questions. Total points=100
  • Hands-on Crime scene Exercises /reports and participation
  • 3 hands-on crime scene exercises will be required. Each will be worth 10 points. The format and grading of the laboratory reports will be provided at the first laboratory session. Bound notebooks are required for all laboratory reports. Participation will be worth 20 points. Total points= 50

Small group formation

  • 8 per team- Designate one team leader
  • Gather emails and phone numbers
  • Find out the following. Total of 4 teams
  • 1) Name, Year (class), Major
  • 2) Why are you interested in forensic science
  • 3) Something to remember you by- Hobbies, Favorite food, favorite sport, other?


  • Quizzes 100 points
  • Exam 1 100 points
  • Exam 2 100 points
  • Final exam 150 points
  • Crime scene exercises 50 points
  • Total required 500 points
  • A total of 10 points may be granted for small group assignments and other individual assignments during the semester. Each assignment will be worth 1-2 points each. These extra credit points may be used to augment your final point total.

Grading Policies

  • Make-up exams will not generally be permitted. However, under extraordinary circumstances, with proper documentation and approval by the instructor, a 15 page single-spaced term paper of an instructor assigned topic, may substitute for 1 exam.
  • A+ 483.5 to 500 C+ 383.5 to 399.9
  • A 467 to 483.4 C 367 to 383.4
  • A- 450 to 466.9 C- 350 to 366.9
  • B+ 433.5 to 449.9 D+ 333.5 to 349.9
  • B 417 to 433.4 D 317 to 333.4
  • B- 400 to 416.9 D- 300 to 316.9
  • F <300

Course Schedule

  • 15 weeks- No classes – Spring week 03/29-04/02
  • Exams : Wed 03/03/10, Wed 04/07/10, Final 05/24/10
  • Last class 05/17/10
  • CSI Exercises (tentatively scheduled) To be announced
  • Student Led Review dates: 03/01, 4/5, 5/17
  • Week of 02/22/10 Lee will be at the American Academy of Forensic Science Meeting- Video and on line assignments in class with required questions
  • CSI Report due dates to be announced- All final reports will be due on 05/17/10

Graduate students enrolling in 100 level courses

  • Graduate students that are enrolling in any eligible JS 100 course will need to complete a special project and document their completion. Only a total of 9 units may be taken in this manner. Forms are available at the graduate advisor office (MH 508).

Course Add/Drop Statement

  • Instructors are permitted to drop students who fail to attend the first scheduled class meeting and who fail to inform the instructor prior to the second class meeting of the reason for any absence and their intention to continue in the class. Some instructors will drop students who do not meet the stated course prerequisites. However, instructors are not required to drop a student from their course. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure classes are dropped.
  • You, the student, are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drops, academic renewal, late drops, withdrawal, etc. found at: http://sa.sjsu.edu/student_conduct
  • http://info.sjsu.edu/web-dbgen/narr/soc-fall/rec-324.html
  • http://www.sjsu.edu/sac/advising/latedrops/policy/

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

  • All students are required to read the following academic integrity policy and complete a tutorial on plagiarism.
  • Visit http://www.sa.sjsu.edu/download/judicial_affairs/Academic_Integrity_Policy_S07-2.pdf and http://sa.sjsu.edu/judicial_affairs/students/academic_integrity.html for the academic policy and process
  • Visit http://tutorials.sjlibrary.org/tutorial/plagiarism/index.htm for the plagiarism tutorial
  • Read each document in its entirety.
  • You are required to document that you have read these policies by printing out a copy of the quiz grade for the plagiarism tutorial.
  • For the academic integrity policy, you are required to hand in a signed, dated, printout to me
  • All due by class period 02/03/10


  • Group assignment 1. Gather your team emails and submit them to your team leader.
    • Team leaders should email me their team’s email addresses and cc copies to all their teammates. Place the name of your team in the subject. Due by Sunday at 1200 noon
  • Assignment 2 Due 2 Feb by email to Steven.Lee@sjsu.edu
  • Part A. Read the following: http://www.crime-scene-investigator.net/respon1.html
  • Read and discuss the Overview section and Pernonnel Duties and Responsibilities of this URL (next time we will discuss personnel duties and responsibilities) among your team mates.
  • After reviewing write 3 quiz questions with a separate sheet for answers and explanations. Total size of the document you submit should not be more than 3 paragraphs (300 words of questions and answers). You may include 1 multiple choice question. Email Qs and As to me
  • Part B. Start to collect the following individually and with your team mates
  • For each person:
  • Bound notebook with page numbers- Spiral notebooks are not as good as pages can easily be torn our. If you need to use a spiral notebook, be sure every page is numbered. 1/person
  • Tape measure- 1 per person
  • Rulers and protractors (with metric and inches)- 1 per person
  • Graph paper (10 sheets/person)
  • Permanent sharpie markers (at least 2- black or blue)
  • Pens (ball points)
  • Digital Camera – 1 per team

Role of the Crime Scene Investigator

    • “Crucial” step in investigation
    • Four Basic Fundamental Concepts
      • Secure- preserve evidence, safety
      • Search – Critical v Supporting v Property
      • Record – sketching, measuring, photography, videography etc
      • Reconstruct- final goal
    • From the analysis of the crime, an experienced CSI will determine what type of physical evidence, where and how to recognize it, how best to collect, preserve and process the evidence and combined with laboratory examinations, reconstruct the crime

Crime Scene Notebook Guidelines

  • Handouts on format
    • Need to use proper format: Abstract, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion with conclusions, References, Appendices
  • Handouts on Self Evaluation (Begin with the end in mind)
    • Administrative Review
    • Technical Review
  • Examples of A, B and C Laboratory Notebooks
    • You will have your notebooks at every class sessions
    • At any session, I may select 1 notebook per group to “grade”. In this way you will get feedback early in the semester to follow.
    • I will be providing a portion of the CSI exercise grade from group participation

Crime Scene Investigation Goal- reconstruct the crime

Locard’s Exchange Principle

  • Contact results in a cross-transfer of evidence
  • 1910 Edmund Locard, successor to Lacassagne as professor of forensic medicine at the University of Lyons, France, established the first police crime laboratory.

Overview of the types of Physical evidence

  • Blood, semen, saliva
  • Documents
  • Drugs
  • Explosives
  • Fibers, Hair, Paint
  • Fingerprints
  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Glass
  • Impressions
  • Organs and physiological fluids
  • Pertoleum produts
  • Plastic bags
  • Rubber, other polymers
  • Powder residues
  • Serial numbers
  • Soil and minerals
  • Tool marks
  • Vehicle lights
  • Wood and other vegetative matter

CSI Exercise 1- Measurements and Documentation

  • In your small teams using the rulers you have been provided, measure to the nearest 0.1 mm the crime scene object for your team.
  • Team leaders should collect all measurements on one paper. Write down the range of measurements (eg 10.3-10.7mm) and calculate the average measurement.
  • In addition, take measurements to document the location of the object.
  • Once completed be sure everyone signs the paper and hand it in.

CSI Measurement Questions

  • Did you all agree on the measurements?
  • If no, what are 3 reasons which may cause the discrepancy?
  • For one of the reasons, design an experiment to test your hypothesis.
  • Is there enough documentation for you to reconstruct the location of the crime scene.

Office Hours Policies

  • Set up 15 minute appointments by email steven.lee@sjsu.edu
  • Benefits (to you and me)
    • Review the course material.
    • Show me how hard you are working
    • Provide feedback
    • Ask specific questions or Ask for help
    • Extra credit may be provided for coming to discuss questions on the reading, exams, DNA, assignments, forensics, news articles, department, college and campus scholarships…etc

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