The Forensic Consultants Association (FCA) provides support in matters pertaining to legal disputes and the courts. Learn more about FCA members and issues in this special report.

  • On the valuation of art, antiques and precious metals

    Trustees, Executors, Fiduciaries, Beneficiaries, as well as private individuals often deal with the problems of resolving tax, equitable distribution, and insurance issues regarding Personal Property. Art, antiques, and precious metal objects are three categories in which professional appraisal services are most often required.

  • Latest effect on fatalities by ABS equipped motorcycles

    As technology has created a boon in home entertainment, its more valuable application has been to the safety systems in modern machinery.

  • What you need to know about your tires

    Tires are black and round, but what else should I know about them? This is definitely a case where not knowing industry and tire company recommendations can hurt you. Failure to follow these recommendations can lead to an inconvenient breakdown at best, and, at worst, a serious accident.

  • The evidence of People v. Robert Blake: Forensic alchemy in wonderland

    In early January, 2004 I was retained by Thomas Mesereau, attorney for Robert Blake to review the gunshot residue (GSR) evidence in this case.

  • Blood is thicker than water

    Exactly what is the thickness of blood and what does it have to do with forensic consulting? Density, specific gravity, and viscosity are measurements associated with the “thickness” of fluids. Changes in the consistency or flow behavior of blood can determine whether a person dies of a heart attack, a stroke, or massive trauma.

  • Computer Forensics -- When Do You Need It?

    If your client has a computer, they need computer forensics. They may not know it; they may dismiss the logic; they may decline the service; but they still need it — every examination that I do emphasizes this truth. The computer has invaded our very existence, become a part of our lives, and is an integral part of almost every case.

  • The Ultimate Cold Case

    United States Marine Colonel James E. Sabow was murdered sometime between 0835 and 0900 on January 22, 1991. The murder occurred in the backyard of his home on the El Toro MCAS during the height of Desert Storm. Security on the base was much tighter than usual, yet, somehow the assailant or assailants managed to carry out the homicide. The Department of Defense (DoD), despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, has maintained that Colonel Sabow committed suicide.

  • Noise In The Work Environment

    As our society grows both in size and complexity, we become more sensitive to the parts of our environment beyond our immediate control. There are more and more situations where our environment may not be as comfortable as we would like, and we are more likely to feel more stress as a result. Noise is a real dimension of our environment, at home, at work, and sometimes even at play.

  • Lessons From The Past

    While Forensic Science (formally known as Criminalistics) has been in place for decades, the O.J. Simpson trial grabbed public attention with two unforgettable phrases. The first is, “Garbage in Garbage out” and the second, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit”.

  • People v. Phil Spector: The missing gunshot residue evidence and misinterpreted blood spatter evidence

    I have had more than 35 years experience in scanning electron microscopy (SEM)/elemental analysis (EDS), the instrumentation utilized for the analysis of gunshot residue (GSR) in shooting cases. My expertise with GSR is more than 20 years. I have also had 15 years training and experience in bloodstain and crime scene analysis.

  • Noise issues within multi-family dwellings

    Controlling noise impacts generated between residential units is one of the greatest challenges for new multi-family residential construction or conversions of existing apartments to condominiums.

  • Concept of coefficient of friction a major factor in slip and fall litigation

    When a person enters litigation, because of an injury from a slip and fall accident, the slipperiness of the surface becomes a major factor in the matter before the court. The slipperiness of the surface is measured by a dimensionless ratio called the coefficient of friction, or COF. The COF is the surface force, generated by a pedestrian, in the walking direction, divided by the weight of the pedestrian. As an example, a 200-pound pedestrian generating a 100-pound surface force will have a COF equal to 0.50

  • Big changes coming to SD Municipal Storm Water Permit

    The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board has a new municipal permit that affects the 21 co-permittees in San Diego County. Co-permittees are cities, San Diego County or public agencies that own or operate a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) that discharges urban runoff in San Diego County.

  • No Justice for Delia Contreras

    Early in the morning of Dec. 29, 1998, Anselmo Vasquez died from a single bullet wound to the chest that came through a bedroom window.

  • Drowning, homicide and misadventure: water-related accidents and cause of death

    How many times have you heard or read “death by misadventure” used to describe a drowning death in film or fiction?

  • The big question regarding cementitious top coating materials

    Moisture related claims are still a predominant factor relating to today’s flooring failures. The extensive development of water-based adhesive and applied coating technology has created a new dilemma for flooring and applied coating contractors.

  • Is your SWPPP correct and defensible? Find out or you may lose your wallet!

    You’re probably asking yourself right now, “What in the world is a SWPPP?” This acronym stands for Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan, and if you have onsite construction activity, having a SWPPP in place can mean the difference between achieving your company’s required pollution compliance or incurring fines of $75,000 a day or more! Your construction project is a big target for statewide regulatory enforcement that can impose major punitive fines.

  • Electrical accidents: The lawyer’s tutorial

    Electrical accidents create personal injuries, which are the subjects of attorneys’ lawsuits. Expert witnesses reconstruct these accidents for lawyers and establish their liabilities. Among these accidents are electric shocks, electrocutions, electrical explosions, electrical fires and flash burns. Lawyers are particularly interested in product liability cases. This lawyer’s tutorial explains the basics of electrical accidents as an introduction to dealing with expert witnesses.

  • Blood, traffic and rheology: Go with the flow

    What do blood, traffic and rheology all have in common? They all involve flow. Rheology is the study of flow.

  • Lead associated with house and automotive keys

    The defendant was accused of the shooting death of his wife. Police administered gunshot residue samplers to the defendant’s hands and objects that he likely came into contact during the interval from the shooting to his arrest. The examination of the samplers by scanning electron microscopy/element analysis showed no particles of gunshot residue, except the sampler of a set of keys from the defendant picked up lead particles. The criminalist called these particles “consistent with gunshot residue.” There were no control examinations (i.e., testing other sets of keys) made. As will be seen, it is unlikely that the source of the lead particles found by the criminalist originated from a firearm.

  • How do consumer expectations affect warning compliance?

    Our expectations can influence whether we read warnings, how we process warning content and whether we decide to comply. For example, a person who believes that an activity is not hazardous may be less likely to attend to a warning regarding that activity. This person’s knowledge base, whether accurate or not, will influence related behaviors. In fact, expectations will influence how people approach and interact with virtually any hazardous situation.

  • Assessment of psychic damages, how it works and why

    How do you talk to dead people? This is a frequent question people have when I tell them I am a forensic psychiatrist. These are people who relate to the old television show “Quincy,” which was about a forensic pathologist who did autopsies on murder victims. Others relate to the recent spurt of CSI programs which are actually about criminal investigation and evidence gathering and examination.

  • About the Forensic Consultants Association

    The Forensic Consultants Association brought together a group of scientists, psychologists, investigative engineers, accident reconstructionists, building contractors, and other specialists to work together toward common goals. Sharing perhaps only one thing in common (the knowledgeable gathering of evidence suitable for use in the courtroom), these independent consultants agreed to work together toward the following goals:

  • So, just what IS a ‘Forensic Consultant?’

    What is a Forensic Consultant? It is many things. Lets start with some definitions — The American Heritage Dictionary defines “Forensic” as “Relating to, used in, or appropriate for courts of law or for public discussion or argumentation” “Relating to the use of science or technology in the investigation and establishment of facts or evidence in a court of law: a forensic laboratory.” The Thomson Gale Legal Encyclopedia defines Forensic as “Belonging to courts of justice.”

  • Waiting to exhale: Asphyxia and death

    If you were to dive into a pool and hold your breath, how long could you spend underwater? Probably less than a minute unless you are David Blaine, an Ama Pearl Diver or conditioned to lower your metabolic rate like a meditating Yogi. However, with practice, many people can hold their breath for about two minutes.

  • How you will be affected

    Spring is the time for renewal, the garden is beginning to bloom and vegetables are being planted. It is also the time for millions of insects to get ready to pack and leave their homes in search for new housing.

  • The condominium conversion controversy in San Diego

    Condominium conversions are a heated topic of discussion among those who believe strongly in homeownership and those who don’t.

  • Termite inspections: Buyers beware

    When most homeowners ask for a termite inspection they assume that all inspectors and all companies are created equal. Nothing could be further from the truth. The experience of the company and their employees can spell the difference between protecting the most expensive purchase you will ever make and finding out that your castle has tens of thousands of dollars damage.

  • Don’t slip: A closer look at the coefficient of friction

    Two great physical forces control human interaction with the universe: gravity and friction. The former has been studied at length by the great men of science — Newton, Einstein, Hawking, Berle. The latter has been largely ignored. Friction is what wears out machines and makes them inefficient. The proper application makes other machines work. Therefore, friction has been studied by mechanical engineers. Without friction between shoes and the floor, walking would be nearly impossible; we would need sharp spikes on our feet to pierce the surface in order to have traction, and Mom would have really ugly floors. The question is: How much friction is enough?

  • ‘Stress’ applied to both mechanical, physiological contexts

    The word stress has many meanings depending upon the context in which it is used. However, in mechanics it has a precise meaning. Stress is a measure of force intensity in a material and may be described in terms of a force per unit area, or pounds per square inch.