Plenary Session

Pre-Registration Not Required — Open to All Meeting Attendees

Wednesday, February 20, 2019                                                                9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.                                                                                     2.25 CE Hours


Welcoming Remarks

Diligence, Dedication, and Devotion

Susan M. Ballou, MS

American Academy of Forensic Sciences
Gaithersburg, MD

Plenary Session Chair:
James J.C.U. Downs, MD
forensX, LLC
Savannah, GA
Plenary Session Co-Chair:
C. Ken Williams, MS, JD
New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Sciences
Central Regional Laboratory
Hamilton, NJ


Bonnie Armstrong, BS
The Shaken Baby Alliance
Fort Worth, TX
Ted R. Hunt, JD
United States Department of Justice
Washington, DC

John F. Sattler, BS
United States Naval Academy
Annapolis, M



“Whether our members are applying new technology to existing techniques or challenging The Federal Rules of Evidence, the desire to improve our profession is evident.
These attributes represent our Diligence to the effort, our Dedication to handling the details, and our Devotion to the field.” 
— Sue Ballou, AAFS President

Why? Why do Forensic Specialists from all disciplines have the commitment to public service despite subjecting themselves to adversarial scorn, interminable bureaucracy, and less-than-optimal resources? How do they show such loyalty and enthusiasm while maintaining objective scientific neutrality in the face of legal and public scrutiny? What drives the careful persistence while the scientific underpinnings of the various specialties are challenged? Who would work in such a system while lives are literally on the line? What could they be thinking? The answers come down to a very fundamental principle: serving the cause of justice and striving to do so every single time.

Consider: practitioners do it because it is the right thing to do.

The scientist working with tenacity on a case despite crushing backlogs. The physician, anthropologist, and entomologist laboring on a child abuse case despite the anticipated cross examination. The prosecutor seeking conviction in a complex and convoluted anthropology cold case. The criminal defense attorney attempting to present a scientifically and medically informed defense despite limited resources. For the forensic professional, the “it never hurts to say ‘I can’t say’ ” aphorism is only valid if the answer is truly unknowable based on available information. If there is an answer to be found, the dedicated practitioner will seek the facts with dogged determination. Ideally, all share one common purpose—seeking justice in an imperfect world. Justice for the victim(s), justice for society, and justice for the accused.

Hopefully, few know what it is like to be a real victim. That is, to personally be victimized. Wrongful convictions do occur, and good folks go to extraordinary means to seek to have these overturned. Others have suffered and continue to suffer by proxy. Family and friends of crime victims relive the traumas with flawed investigations, challenged witnesses, retrials, etc. Conscientious forensics personnel want to do what they do better and faster. As evidenced by the current epidemic of opioid-associated deaths and many other examples, the federal government is trying to provide tools to the forensics community. Ultimately, forensic specialists labor every day—not for the headlines but for the sense of team and loyalty in pursuit of truth—day in and day out doing the tedious work that helps serve the common good and doing so with dedication, devotion, and diligence.


  9:00 a.m. – 9:10 a.m.

Welcoming Remarks
Susan M. Ballou, MS
  9:10 a.m. – 9:40 a.m.

Fighting Back: Victimization—And What to Do About It
Bonnie Armstrong, BS
  9:40 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.

Rededication to a Common Cause: The Search for Truth in the Name of Justice
Ted R. Hunt, JD
10:20 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.

Diligence, Dedication, and Devotion—In the Real World
John F. Sattler, BS
11:10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Panel Discussion
Susan M. Ballou, MS; John F. Sattler, BS; Ted R. Hunt, JD; Bonnie Armstrong, BS