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Will the Increase in Use of Technology in the Law Practice Reduce the Number of Cold Cases?

It is pretty common knowledge that with the increase of the advances being made in forensic science comes an increase of solved criminal cases. This leaves me thinking– will an increase in advances in technology bring an increase of solved criminal cases as well?

Advances in forensic science are often widely known, as they bring about great changes in every day society. DNA, fingerprint analysis, voice recognition; perpetrators are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt every day due to the reliability of these new tests. Not only that, but many innocent victims of wrongful incarceration are freed thanks to the use these tests.  An eye-witness testimony is a pretty damning piece of evidence. Yet, scientific results of a DNA test that have a 99.9% accuracy can prove something beyond a reasonable doubt. http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/science/forensics/. With the new ability to prove these results, prosecutors can make their case on something other than the traditional “he-said-she-said” evidence. Likewise, defendants can avoid being wrongfully convicted by distinguishing themselves using DNA.

This past weekend I listened to a podcast about an unsolved murder right here in Ohio. Dating all the way back to 1978, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Amber Hunt looks into the murder of Elizabeth Andes. http://www.cincinnati.com/story/money/2016/09/07/accused-chapter-1-the-crime-elizabeth-andes-oxford-ohio/88799458/The case is unsolved, but is not officially a “cold case” as the police believed they knew who did it– they just could not prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Looking into what evidence there was at the time Hunt attempts to piece together scattered information and old files. In the end, the murder cannot even be located due to the disorganization of the case file. Id. This got me to thinking and what it will be like when someone looks into a murder of 2016, 38 years later. As motions are filed online, discovery is all saved to a disk, and proceedings themselves are actually recorded, will there still be the potential for an unsolved case practically unable to be further investigated?

It will definitely be interesting to see what the advances in the use of technology in the actual law practice, and not just evidence gathering, can do to improve the number of solved criminal cases.

-Alyssa Miller