Office of Justice Programs (OJP)

Cook County Forensic Science DNA and Digital Evidence Litigation Program

BJA Program(s): Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program
State(s): IL

Grantee Agency: See below

Grant Amount/Year(s): FY 2009/$36,000

About the Program:

Through this JAG ARRA award, the Cook County Forensic Science DNA and Digital Evidence Litigation Program (CCFSD) provides training and technical assistance to the law office of the Cook County Public Defender (CCPD) to continue to improve its ability to effectively investigate, analyze, and litigate cases involving DNA and digital evidence. Through this program, the CCPD created an internal system to sustain and apply the program's benefits throughout the office. The program trained eight attorneys in two kinds of forensic science: quantitative aspects of DNA litigation and digital evidence. These attorneys work with assistant public defenders from across the office on DNA and digital forensic science cases.

Program Successes/Effect on the Community:

The training provided to Forensic Science Defense (FSD) attorneys in the quantitative aspects of forensic DNA analysis and digital forensic science allows the CCPD to meet changing needs to effectively represent its clients. In DNA cases, FSD attorneys represent clients, consult with other assistants, and share training with approximately 150 assistant public defenders throughout the office. In digital forensic science cases, the FSD will represent clients, consult with other assistants, and share training with at least 12 assistants over 12 months, and likely a sizable and growing number in years to come. The program enabled the Public Defender to establish a DNA conference, which was approved for CLE credit. Specialist speakers addressed topic areas where specialized training is needed.

The target population that stands to benefit is indigent persons accused of crimes in Cook County. Their demographic characteristics closely follow those of the individuals who pass through Cook County Jail: approximately 67 percent African American, 20 percent Hispanic, and 13 percent White. The program strategy is based on specialized classes taught by professors, expert and highly qualified in these fields, from Northwestern University and the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Learn More:
To learn more about the program, please contact:
Daynia Sanchez-Bass
Program Director
Phone: 312-603-8389

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