Just A Public Defender’s Perspective

Just A Public Defender’s Perspective

In episode two, Just Science interviews Nicolas Hughes, assistant public defender with the Harris County Public Defender’s Office in Houston, TX, about the validation of tools utilized by digital forensics laboratories.

Many forensic laboratories face overwhelming caseloads; digital forensic labs are no exception. The diversity and complexity of devices that can be used as digital evidence continues to be a dynamic problem. From malware scanners to cell phones to smart homes, digital evidence can be a pivotal piece of the puzzle when investigating crimes. Nicolas Hughes is uniquely poised to drive better practices within the digital forensic discipline. He blends his background in computer engineering and law to better understand problems of inaccuracy and misinterpretation. Listen along as he discusses digital security, the value of a skilled technician, and the validation of digital forensics tools in this episode of Just Science.

This episode of Just Science is funded by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence [Award 2016-MU-BX-K110].


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Nicolas Hughes works as an assistant public defender with the Harris County Public Defender’s Office, where he focuses on forensic issues in criminal cases. In his daily role, Nicolas uses raw data, academic and industry research, and in-depth analysis of laboratory methodologies in order to defend his clients. In addition to his work as an assistant public defender, Nicolas is finishing a master’s degree in digital forensics. Nicolas’s primary research interests involve metrology and validation within the field of digital forensics. Nicolas is currently creating and improving a tool to help better evaluate and understand the limitations of malware scanners used by digital forensic examiners during routine analysis of digital evidence.

Additional Resources

Digital Forensics: An Overview for the Laboratory Manager Webinar