Judge earns PhD from Nevada, National Judicial College with dissertation on forensic science

By Frank Weir

Legal News

Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Donald Shelton recently earned a PhD degree from the University of Nevada, Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies.

The center is administered jointly between the University of Nevada, Reno, and the National Judicial College, Shelton said. The University offers both masters and doctoral degrees in judicial studies.

"I completed my masters degree in criminology and criminal justice at Eastern Michigan University where I have been an adjunct faculty member since 1997," Shelton explained.

"I am only the seventh PhD recipient in the history of the program, which goes back to 1992. My doctoral dissertation is entitled 'Criminal Adjudication: The Challenges of Forensic Science Evidence in the Early 21st Century' and I successfully defended the dissertation before a five-member faculty committee in April.

"The research focuses on new challenges to the scientific basis for many forms of forensic evidence that have been routinely accepted in criminal cases. The emergence of DNA, and the resulting DNA exonerations, has revealed that many innocent persons have been convicted based on such evidence and recent studies have found a lack of true scientific bases for many forms of such evidence.

"A textbook I have written based on the dissertation is going to be published this fall by Rowman and Littlefield.

"As with my Masters degree, my basic interest in pursuing these PhD studies is the research, primarily into the way monumental technical, scientific and cultural changes are affecting our judicial system.

"The degree is almost incidental to being able to question the meaning of what we do in the judicial system. I have been a judge for 20 years and during that time, neither our society nor the law has remained constant.

"They change, sometimes independently, and I am intrigued by their relationship to each other. Many of my writings focus on these issues."

A listing of Shelton's writings is available at the Washtenaw County Trial Court website:

http://washtenawtrialcourt.org/general/judge_profiles/DESresume or a shorter version is available on the Berkeley Press website at: http://works.bepress.com/donald_shelton.

Published: Fri, Jul 23, 2010

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