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Just Science Podcast: Just a Public Defender's Perspective

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2020
1 page

This episode in the Just Science podcast series sponsored by the National Institute of Justice is an interview with Nicolas Hughes, assistant public defender with the Harris County Public Defender's Office (Houston, Texas), who discusses the validation of tools used by digital forensics laboratories.


Background information on the interview indicates that many forensic laboratories, including digital forensic labs, face heavy caseloads. The diversity and complexity of devices that can be used as digital evidence continues to be a problem. Encompassing malware scanners and cell phones, digital evidence can be pivotal evidence in a criminal investigation. Nicolas Hughes blends his background in computer engineering and law to achieve a better understanding of inaccuracy and misinterpretation of digital evidence. His interview addresses digital security, the value of a skilled technician, and the validation of digital forensics tools. Hughes notes that the use of various means to obtain data from a digital device requires that the forensic examiner be knowledgeable about both the digital device being scanned and any device being used to search for and collect data from the digital device that contains potential evidence. Given this requirement of technical knowledge, Hughes argues for the accreditation and continuing education of digital forensic scientists and the upgrading of standards for digital forensic labs as means of ensuring the comprehensive and accurate collection and interpretation of digital evidence.

Date Published: July 1, 2020