The IASTED International Symposia on
Imaging and Signal Processing in Healthcare and Technology
ISPHT 2011

May 16 – 18, 2011
Washington, DC, USA


Image Challenges in Forensic Medicine

Dr. Peter Kragel
Chairman, Department of Pathology & Medicine
East Carolina University, USA
[email protected]


The recent National Academy of Forensic Sciences report "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward" has deeply challenged the basic assumptions of the validity of forensic science and expert opinion in forensic cases. This challenge has resulted in much greater scrutiny of expert opinion in court, in the depth of Daubert and other challenges to scientific evidence, and in the movement towards more binding guidelines and standards. More recently, Senator Leahy is preparing a bill that will address some these issues from a federal perspective. The Federal Bureau of Investigation recognized this as an issue early in the deployment of digital sensors and established the Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technology (SWGIT) to address the need for coherent guidelines, and has been promulgating best practices documents for forensic imaging since the late 1990s. These documents have served as the basis for other groups' efforts such as National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), ASTM International, and the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB). While most of the efforts are directed towards traditional, non-medical forensic disciplines such as toolmark analysis, fingerprint identification, and bitemark analysis, a significant portion of the report called for changes in Forensic Pathology. The thrust of the NAS report regarding forensic pathology addresses issues in training, certification, and funding. However, the NAS report and the promulgation of forensic imaging guidelines by organizations such as the SWGIT will impact the admissibility of medical images in court. Forensic Pathologists are increasingly being challenged in court when they attempt to enter images into evidence, dealing with image authenticity, image quality, and image integrity. It is likely that these kinds of challenges will become more common in medical civil litigation involving imagery. This panel discussion will review recent developments in the forensic disciplines with focus on their effects on forensic medicine.
* Several examples of questions or issues that will be addressed by the panel:
1) How is imaging technology used in the context of forensic medicine?
2) How do the rules of evidence affect the admission of forensic medical images, both in forensic medicine and in more general medical image technology?
3) What is the impact of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on medical imaging in a forensic context?
4) How will the federal response to the NAS report likely affect federal oversight and regulation of medical expert witnesses who wish to use imagery?
5) What guidelines and standards exist for forensic imagery and how can they be applied in a medical context?


Biography of the Organizer

Dr. Marcella Fierro - MD, FASCP, retired Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia and Professor of Legal Medicine at the Medical College of Virginia. Dr Fierro received her medical degree from the University of Buffalo and residency training at the Cleveland Clinic. She completed a fellowship in forensic pathology and legal medicine at Virginia CommonwealthUniversity. During her career she worked on several high profile cases, including the Southside Strangler homicides and, most recently, the Virginia Tech shootings. The author Patricia Cornwell is said to have modeled the protagonist of her crime novels, Kay Scarpetta, on Dr Fierro.
Dr. Richard Vorder Bruegge - Senior Photographic Technologist in the Digital Evidence Section of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at Quantico, VA. He has worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) since 1995, analyzing film, video, and digital images that relate to crime and intelligence matters. He has performed numerous forensic examinations in hundreds of cases. He has testified as an expert witness in international courts and in United States federal and state courts. Doctor Bruegge conducts research in the field of forensic image analysis, including facial identification. He was chair of the Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technology (SWGIT) from 2000 to 2006 and was elected chair of the Facial Identification Scientific Working Group (FISWG) in 2009. In 2007 he briefed the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Future of Forensic Sciences on the discipline of forensic photographic comparisons. His publications include books, chapters and articles on image analysis and facial recognition in forensics and biometrics literature. He has delivered close to 100 formal presentations in forensic science meetings and is a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He is the FBI's point of contact for face and iris recognition.
Dr. William Oliver- Professor and Chief of Autopsy and Forensic Pathology at East Carolina University. He has a longstanding interest in the evaluation of shape and of patterned injuries. Dr. Oliver is on the Executive Committee of the FBI Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technologies and is Chair of the Image Analysis subcommittee. He is on the Executive Committee of the Applied Image Pattern Recognition Workshop held annually at the Cosmos Club in Washington DC. He has served on the select medical panel for the NIJ evaluation of conducted energy weapons. He serves on multiple committees for the National Association of Medical Examiners, and is co-author of the CDC Medical Examiner guidebook on bioterrorism. He is a reviewer for multiple journals, and has published in numerous journals including the IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, Journal of Surgical Oncology, Journal of Forensic Science, American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, and the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. He has presented Workshops for many years at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences on Image Processing in Forensic Medicine.

Panel Session Portrait

Peter J. Kragel, M.D. received his baccalaureate degree from John Hopkins University and his MD from Georgetown University. He completed his residency training at the University of Maryland Hospital, and is board-certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology. He is Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at East Carolina University, and also serves as the Clinical Director of the East Carolina University Telemedicine Center. He is the Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Universal Service Administration Company Board, Washington, DC and member of the Rural Health Care committee. He maintains a clinical practice focused on surgical pathology, and is a member of the Arthur Purdy Stout Society of Surgical Pathologists as well as other professional organizations. His research interests include digital pathology, and telemedicine applications and standards.