CJ312 Criminalistics

for F2T 2011

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Mission Statement: Park University provides access to a quality higher education experience that prepares a diverse community of learners to think critically, communicate effectively, demonstrate a global perspective and engage in lifelong learning and service to others.

Vision Statement: Park University, a pioneering institution of higher learning since 1875, will provide leadership in quality, innovative education for a diversity of learners who will excel in their professional and personal service to the global community.


CJ 312 Criminalistics


F2T 2011 DL


Callahan, Kelli K.


M.F.S. Master of Forensic Sciences
B.S. Psychology
B.A. Anthropology

Office Location

Seattle, WA.

Office Hours

Daily via Park Email, Personal Email, Phone, Fax, and IM

Daytime Phone

425-791-0503 (Cell)

Other Phone

eFax: 206-338-6012



ForensicKC@yahoo.com, Yahoo IM: "InstructorKelli"

Semester Dates

10/17/11 - 12/11/11

Class Days


Class Time


Credit Hours


Criminalistics: An Introduction to Forensic Science (Ninth Edition).

Author: Richard Saferstein

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

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Course Description:
CJ312 Criminalistics: This intermediate course covers topics such as the discovery, recognition, observation,identification and collection and comparison of physical evidence, including a review of various current techniques in testing of physical evidence. Prerequisite: CJ100 and CJ105. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:
Your instructor's educational philosophy is based upon virtual lectures, examinations, information from web sites provided, writings from outside sources and dialogue with myself and fellow students. Assignments are intended to encourage a thoughtful exploration of ideas and application of information provided during the course. Contradictory thoughts are encouraged as part of the learning process.

Learning Outcomes:
  Core Learning Outcomes

  1. Distinguish different types of evidence used in criminal prosecutions.
  2. Critique the admissibility of evidence.
  3. Recognize and develop evidence.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes
  1. 1. Define the role and the significance of the Criminalist in the Criminal Justice System.
  2. 2. Discuss the importance of courtroom testimony as it relates to the Forensic Sciences.
  3. 3. Explain the role of multi-juridictional investigations in high profile cases.
  4. 4. List some of the latest cutting edge technologies and advancements in the Forensic Sciences.
Core Assessment:

Class Assessment:

Each week, students are required to engage in discussion among themselves by answering and commenting upon questions posed for that week. Each week's discussion is worth 20 points, with 1-10 provided for content and 1-10 points provided for timliness of submitting the discussion answers.  

Weeks 1, 3, and 5 require a paper which provides the students opportunities to apply material learned from reading, vitual lecture and discussions. Each paper carries a maximum of 100 points. Papers should adhere to APA formatting guidelines.

During Weeks 2, 4, 6, and 7 you will take a timed quiz in lieu of submitting a paper. In Week 7, you will have the CORE paper as well as a quiz. The CORE paper should be no less than 1,000 words and will be graded on a scale of 100 points. The CORE paper should be prepared in accordance with APA guidelines.
Please note that Weeks 1, 3, 5, and 7 have quizzes but these are not part of your grade, they are for practice purposes only.
During the eighth week, a proctored final exam will be taken by the student which will combine multiple choice with short answer questions.
CORE Assessement Rubric:

Learning Outcomes

(list CLO)

Exceeds Expectations


Meets Expectations


Does Not Meet Expectations  (1)

Core Learning Outcome #1 (part of Core Assessment)

Explain how the use of forensic investigative techniques enables both prosecutors and defense attorneys to recognize and develop evidence in the prosecution of criminal cases and in the defense of the accused.




Core Learning Outcome #2

(part of Core Assessment)

Discuss how forensic science is or is not better than these traditional methods and why.




Core Learning Outcome #3

(part of Core Assessment)

Discuss whether courts and juries now place more trust in forensic science than other forms of information.





Core Learning Outcome #4

(part of Core Assessment)


Provide your arguments that juries should or should not place more emphasis and trust in forensic science and your reasons for the argument.







The grading scale is as follows: A = 90-100; B = 80-89; C = 70-79; D = 60-69; F = 0-59. The final exam will count 25% of your total grade, weekly discussion presentations will count 20% of your total grade, the quizzes for Weeks 2, 4, 6, and 7 will count for 10% of the total course grade, papers for Weeks 1, 3, and 5 are worth 15% of the total course grade, and the CORE paper will account for 30% of your total course grade.  

Each student is responsible for:
Completing weekly Reading assignments.
Completing Weekly Discussion Questions.
Completing four writing assignments, referred to as Papers.
Completing quizzes in applicable weeks. 
Completing a CORE paper in Week 8.
Completing a proctored Final Examination

Late Submission of Course Materials:

Discussion forums cannot be made up given their semi-synchronous nature. Initial discussion post must be submitted by Thursday of each academic week. Initial post submitted after Thursday will automatically receive a five point penalty. Posts must be spread out over a minimum of two days during the academic week. Posts submitted all on one day will automatically receive a five point penalty. Late Assignments will receive a 10% per day late penalty for each day past the scheduled due date of an assignment up to seven days. After seven days past the official due date a score of zero (0) shall be given for the assignment/task.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

Policy #1:  Submission of Work:

A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday 12:01 am MST and Sunday at 11:59 PM MST. The first week begins the first day of the term/semester. Assignments scheduled for completion during a class week should be completed and successfully submitted by the posted due date. Create a back up file of every piece of work you submit for grading. This will ensure that a computer glitch or a glitch in cyberspace won't erase your efforts. When files are sent attached to an email, the files should be in either Microsoft Word, RTF, ASCII, txt, or PDF file formats.
Policy #2: Ground Rules for Online Communication & Participation

General email: Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. When sending email other than assignments, you must identify yourself fully by name and class in all email sent to your instructor and/or other members of our class. Online threaded discussions: are public messages and all writings in this area will be viewable by the entire class or assigned group members. Online Instructor Response Policy:  I will check my email frequently and will respond to course-related questions within 24-48 hours. Observation of "Netiquette": All your Online communications need to be composed with fairness, honesty and tact.  Spelling and grammar are very important in an Online course.  What you put into an Online course reflects on your level of professionalism.  Here are a couple of Online references that discuss writing Online http://goto.intwg.com/ and netiquette http://www.albion.com/netiquette/corerules.html. Please check the Announcements area before you ask general course "housekeeping" questions (i.e. how do I submit assignment 3?).  If you don't see your question there, then please contact me.  

Policy #3: What to do if you experience technical problems or have questions about the Online classroom.  

If you experience computer difficulties (need help downloading a browser or plug-in, you need help logging into the course, or if you experience any errors or problems while in your Online course, click on the  button in your Online Classroom, then click on the helpdesk menu item, and then fill out the form or call the helpdesk for assistance. If the issue is preventing you from submitting or completing any coursework, contact me immediately.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week 1: An Introduction to Criminalistics and Crime Scenes

(10/17/11 - 10/23/11)

Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

During Week 1, we will discuss the basic and advanced forensic procedures available to investigators.  During this week we'll examine the early history and development of this science and study the overall range of its subject material.  Some emphasis will be placed this week on a systematic, organized plan for the forensic handling of a crime scene.

  • Readings:
    • Text: Chapters 1 and 2.
    • On-line site examinations:


  • Class Activities: Introduction to online computer conference learning. Introduction & discussion of syllabus/assignment and course overview.  Overview of criminalistics and history, discussion on crime scene development and submitting first paper based upon information from the web-sites..
  • Weekly Discussion Question:
    • After contacting your local police agency, determine who would process a major crime scene: do they do it themselves or use mutual aid from another agency?  Ask where the evidence would be submitted for forensic testing and report both aspects of information to the rest of the class.
    • Comment upon whether your selected agency's means of forensic development seems to be adequate based upon your readings and any comments made by the agency.
  • Paper: Select one of the articles found on ethics in the web-site assigned this week and review/comment upon it.  Be sure to identify which article you chose for instructor review.

Week 2:  Physical Evidence and Properties of Glass and Soil

(10/24/11 - 10/30/11)

Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

During Week 2, we will begin a general examination of  the nature and basic types of physical evidence.  Some emphasis will be placed upon legal aspects, with this segment concluding in a discussion of the forensic evidence in the Wayne Williams homicide case.  The week will end with an examination of the text chapter on the specific physical properties found in glass and soil.

  • Readings:
    • Text: Study Chapters 3 and 4.
  • Class Activities: Examination of the nature of physical evidence and the major types encountered at crime scenes.  Study of two case histories with on-line discussion on one, and a paper on the other.
  • Weekly Discussion Topics/Question:
    • How much of the development of Wayne Williams was luck and how much was detailed investigation and evidence development?
  • Paper: Review the Bobby Joe Long serial murder case study beginning on page 499 of your text and identify the important categories of physical evidence used in this case, indicating examples of evidence in each category.  Reassess the information you obtained in Week One from your local police agency regarding their forensic ability and offer an opinion of whether you feel confident that your agency could handle this type of evidence.

Week 3: Organic and Inorganic Analysis and Microscopy

(10/31/11 - 11/06/11)

Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

During Week 3, we will examine the physical aspects of and differences between organic and inorganic analysis, also learning the primary instruments used in the examination of these substances.  During this week we will also study the field of microscopy in forensic studies. We will conclude the week with an examination of forensic entomology, anthropology and odontology in their criminal investigative uses.

  • Readings:
  • Class Activities: Discussion of chapters on organic and inorganic analysis and  microscopy with additional studies on forensic entomology and anthropology.
  • Weekly Discussion Topics/Question:
    • After reviewing links regarding forensic anthropology, provide your view of the methods used in Dr. William Bass' Anthropology Research Facility.
  • Paper: From the assigned website, go to "Case studies in the field of Forensic Entomology"  and select three cases, identifying in your paper which of the cases you chose.  Provide a brief review of the major aspects and compare and contrast similarities and differences in the cases: what aspects were the same, what aspects were different and what actions by the investigators contributed to successful results.

Week 4: Hairs, Fibers and Paint; Drugs

(11/07/11 - 11/13/11)

Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

During Week 4, we will begin by examining the physical and forensic aspects of hairs, fibers and paints, drawing back on some of the discussions of the crime scene presented in Week 2.  We will also examine the means of collecting and preserving these types of evidence.   During Week 4 we will additionally discuss the forensic aspects of drugs along with a brief history of their influence on our culture.  Particular emphasis will be placed upon recognition of both legal and physiologic classifications of common drugs and the proper methods of collecting and preserving them for evidentiary use.

  • Readings:
  • Class Activities: Students will examine the aspects of hair, fiber and paint evidence and discuss its prevalence at crime scenes. 
  • Weekly Discussion Topics/Question:
    • From your knowledge of high-profile cases as well as your text, how important do you see hair and fiber evidence to the majority of crime scenes?
  • Paper: Review websites discussing the triple homicide case against Dr. Jeffery MacDonald and review/comment upon the hair and fiber evidence used in the prosecution.

Week 5: Toxicology and Arson/Explosives Evidence

(11/14/11 - 11/20/11)

Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

During Week 5, we will examine the forensic aspects of toxicology and arson/explosives. Particular emphasis will be placed on the most common toxicologic testing done, that of alcohol presense, but additional discussion will involves less common poisons. The section regarding arson and explosives will draw upon chemical and physical aspects commonly encountered in these crime scenes.

  • Readings:
    • Text: Chapters 10 and 11.
    • Applicable assigned web-site reading:  http://members.tripod.com/~Prof_Anil_Aggrawal/index.html
    • Class Activities: Study of toxicology as well as arson and explosives evidence will be conducted this week.  Text material will be augmented with web-site material.
    • Weekly Discussion Topics/Question: Toxicology examinations are needed in most suspicious deaths but many jurisdictions do not have a qualified forensic pathologist to perform the autopsies. What would you recommend be done if your jurisdiction lacks a forensic pathologist but you as the detective feel toxicologic testing is needed?
    • Paper: After reviewing the web-site for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), seek any related links and offer your opinion on whether bombings are on the rise and any changes you see in motives, explosive material used, or methods.

Week 6:  Forensic Serology and DNA

(11/21/11 - 11/27/11)

Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

During Week 6, we begin with an examination of forensic serology, with special emphasis on blood stains and spatter patterns.  Discussion on semenal evidence will lead into the second half of the week's material involving DNA.  We will briefly note its historical use but will emphasize the current techniques, uses and misuses of this dynamic field of forensic evidence.

Goals: At the conclusion of this week, the student should:

  • Understand the importance and specifics of serology and blood spatter pattern analysis
  • Understand the major types of DNA analysis: RFLP, PCR, STR and mtDNA
  • Know the major concerns and precautions in DNA evidence collection
  • Readings:
    • Text: Chapters 10 and 11.
  • Class Activities: Students will engage in an examination of serology which will lead to the emphasis of the week, DNA evidence.  Students will augment text readings with web-site information.
  • Weekly Discussion Topics/ Question: DNA is obviously one of the fastest developing forms of forensic evidence. Common upon potential pitfalls or failures you see in this form of evidence.
  • Paper: Review the article from the assigned web site and compare the aspects of mitochondrial DNA to the more known PCR and RFLP techniques.

Week 7: Fingerprints, Firearms and Toolmarks; Document and Voice Examination

 (11/28/11 - 12/04/11)

Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

During Week 7, we will discuss  fingerprinting, examining the fundamentals, brief history of their forensic uses and the traditional as well as emerging means of detecting and preserving them as evidence.  We will finish the week with studying firearms/toolmarks and document and voice analysis.

Goals: At the conclusion of this week, the student should

  • Learn the history and basic patterns of fingerprints;
  • Understand the new technology of fingerprint storage and search;
  • Learn the significance and types of toolmarks;
  • Learn the significant forensic evidence to be found from firearms;
  • Understand the significant aspects of document and voice examination.
  • Readings:
    • Text: Chapters 14, 15 and 16
  • Class Activities: Fingerprints, toolmarks (which includes firearms) and document & voice examination will be studied.  Some web-site information may be recommended during the discussion
  • Weekly Discussion Topics/Question:
    • With the advent of highly sophisticated forensic techniques, do you feel that fingerprinting is now outdated and over-rated at the crime scene?  Should more emphasis be placed on more high-tech evidence collection?

Week 8: Computers, the Internet and Forensic Future

(12/05/11 - 12/11/11)

Overview, Objectives, and Weekly Activities

During Week 8, we will conclude the course with an examination of  the internet in investigations and discussion of the future in forensic science and criminology. During this week you will also complete the final examination for this course.

Goals: At the conclusion of this week, the student should

  • Understand the basic components of computers and the internet
  • Learn basic considerations and approaches to computer data examination.
  • Recognize some of the changing future techniques in forensics.
  • Readings:
  • Class Activities: Discussion of computer evidence, use of the internet in investigation and the future trends expected in forensic studies.  Final exam is taken by proctor method by the end of this week.
  • Weekly Discussion Topics/Question:
    • What dangers do you see as well as applications of computers on criminology?
    • In what ways do you see the internet being used in forensic studies?
    • Are you aware of any other areas of forensic science being developed but not discussed by your text?  

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life. Park University students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty (www.park.edu/current or http://www.park.edu/faculty/).from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 93

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.
ONLINE NOTE: Students must participate in an academically related activity on a weekly basis in order to be marked present in an online class. Examples of academically-related activities include but are not limited to: contributing to an online discussion, completing a quiz or exam, completing an assignment, initiating contact with a faculty member to ask a courserelated question, or using any of the learning management system tools.

Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 96

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .

Additional Information:

CORE Assessment Paper

For your CORE assessment, provide an essay of not less than four pages or 1000 words in length (excluding the cover sheet, title sheet, Abstract and References pages) which addresses the issues below. The essay should be typed, written in APA format to include in-text source citations and use a minimum of four sources of material from outside the class. These papers are due by the last day of Week 7.

Criminalistics and forensic science has grown both in scope and importance to the criminal justice system. There is no question that it compliments and aids in traditional investigations. However, as it has become more advanced and technical, has it come to have more importance than the traditional methods of investigating such as questioning eyewitnesses, interrogating suspects and determining information from street informants? In your answer, specifically address the following issues:

· Explain how the use of forensic investigative techniques enables both prosecutors and defense attorneys to recognize and develop evidence in the prosecution of criminal cases and in the defense of the accused.

· Discuss how forensic science is or is not better than these traditional methods and why.

· Discuss whether courts and juries now place more trust in forensic science than other forms of information.

· Provide your arguments that juries should or should not place more emphasis and trust in forensic science and your reasons for the argument.

In providing answers to these issues, indicate specific types of forensic evidence that would apply and use trustworthy supportive examples wherever possible such as case law or case examples.


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Last Updated:9/22/2011 12:47:00 AM