Center on Wrongful Convictions Spring 2017 Symposium


Hot Topics in Criminal Justice: What you Need to Know

 When: March 10, 2017, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Where: Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Atrium

This program has been approved for a total of 4 general and 2 professional responsibility CLE credit hours in the state of Illinois. 

 Register HERE

Four in-depth, expert-led sessions on issues essential to understanding and preventing wrongful convictions.

8:30-9:00:  Coffee service and registration

9:00-9:15: Welcome

9:15-10:15: The Current State of Firearm and Toolmark Identification Evidence

Presenter: John Murdock, Firearm and Toolmark Examiner, John E. Murdock & Associates – Forensic Consultants, LLC

What exactly is firearm and toolmark identification evidence, and what are its limits? Is it reliable enough for admission into court proceedings? Can measures be taken to reduce the risk of cognitive bias creeping into the analysis?

Introduction by Judith Royal, Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

10:15-10:30: Break

10:30-12:30: Implicit Racial Bias and Decision Making in the Criminal Justice System

Presenter: Professor L. Song Richardson, University of California, Irvine School of law

Investigating, charging, prosecuting, defending, judging, sentencing—no decision point in the criminal justice system is immune from the impact of implicit racial bias. Following a presentation by Professor Richardson about what cognitive and social psychology teach us about bias throughout the progress of a criminal case, we will further explore the issue through reflections from our community’s top criminal justice leadership.


  • Amy Campanelli, Public Defender of Cook County
  • Kim Foxx, State’s Attorney of Cook County
  • Lori Lightfoot, Chicago Police Board President

Moderator: Karen Daniel, Director, Center on Wrongful Convictions

12:30-1:30: Lunch break (lunch on your own)

1:30-3:00:  Sources of Contamination in Lineup Identifications

Presenter: Dr. Brian Cutler, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

A psychology researcher and courtroom expert will provide a data-informed review of factors that can undermine the reliability of lineup identifications, followed by an update on the admissibility of eyewitness expert testimony at Illinois criminal trials from an experienced appellate litigator and a firsthand account of the damage that can result from eyewitness error from an exoneree who was twice erroneously identified.


  • Linda Olthoff, Assistant Illinois Appellate Defender
  • Dana Holland, Exoneree

Moderator: Andrea Lewis, Assistant Clinical Professor, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

3:00-3:15: Break

3:15-4:45:  Police Interrogations and How They Can Generate False Confessions

Presenter: Jim Trainum, author and former Washington, D.C., homicide detective

What missteps can lead to a false confession? How can attorneys best evaluate statement evidence? Is there a better alternative to the predominant methods of interrogation currently used by U.S. police officers? Mr. Trainum will answer these questions from the perspective of a law enforcement veteran, an active instructor on investigation methods—and a former detective who once elicited a false confession.

Introduction by Steven Drizin, Assistant Dean, Bluhm Legal Clinic

4:45: Wrap-up

CLE Materials:

The Current State of Firearms and Toolmark Idenitification Evidence

Daubert and FirearmsNRC Report 2008NAS Report 2009PCAST Forensic Science ReportAFTE Oct. 31, 2016FATM Response to PCASTPCAST Forensics AddendumJohn Murdock CWC Symposium PowerPoint

Implicit Racial Bias and Decision Making in the Criminal Justice System

Implicit Racial Bias in Public Defender TriagePolice Efficiency and the Fourth Amendment 

Chicago Police Accountability Task Force Report

Sources of Contamination in Lineup Identifications

Shaping Eyewitness and Alibi Testimony with Coercive Interview PracticesPeople v. LermaSources of Contamination in Eyewitness IdentificationThe Lineup Reform Movement

Police Interrogations and How They Can Generate False Confessions

Avoiding PitfallsConfession Contamination and EvaluationWhat Does Interrogation Got to Do with It?