Code Of Ethics
This Code of Ethics is established in accordance with previously ordained sections of the Corporation (NEAFS) by-laws (Article III, Section 1; Article VI, Section 9.b-e; and Article VIII, Section 5) pertaining to matters of ethical conduct and membership sanction.
Article I, Purpose and Scope
It is the intent of this Code of Ethics to assist the members of the Corporation (NEAFS) in maintaining high standards of ethical conduct. In addition, it is meant to offer them clear guidance in the pursuit of their own work and the goals of the Corporation (NEAFS). It is recognized that no set of guidelines can deal with every circumstance. The principles set forth in the Code should be regarded as reflecting to a significant degree, the conduct requirements expected of the members. Matters for consideration by the Committee are primarily those related to the Corporation (NEAFS); secondly, those matters concerning the profession in general; and thirdly, serious unethical conduct per se.
Article II, Conduct and Responsibilities of Members Relating Specifically to NEAFS
1.No member shall solicit or accept any gift in any form under circumstances where it might be inferred that the gift was intended as a reward to influence him/her while acting in an official capacity for the Corporation (NEAFS).
2. No member shall improperly disclose confidential information regarding other members or the activities of the Corporation (NEAFS).
3. Members shall not attempt to use their membership to obtain unjustified benefits, privileges, or exemptions for themselves or others.
4. Unauthorized public statements representing the Corporation (NEAFS) are specifically forbidden.
5. It shall be deemed both ethical and proper for a member to bring violations of the Code of Ethics to the attention of the Corporation (NEAFS).
Article III, Ethics Relating to Professional Work Performance and Courtroom Testimony
1. It is imperative that the forensic scientist be aware of personal limitations in training or experience.
2. The forensic scientist must avoid any intentional misrepresentation of training, experience, or areas of expertise.
3. The forensic scientist will make a thorough examination of evidence, applying a sufficient number of tests to reach conclusions.
4. The use of generally accepted methods for analysis is desirable, however, this is not meant to discourage individual initiative when circumstances warrant.
5. The forensic scientist should issue technically correct statements in all written or oral reports; testimony and public addresses. The interpretation of results should avoid any ambiguous or inaccurate claim.
6. It is essential for the forensic scientist to clearly differentiate between scientific results and expert opinion.
7. The forensic scientist is interested only in scientific fact and the correct interpretation of data from the evidence under consideration. In this regard, one must present results in an impartial manner not withholding information that would be unfavorable to the side by whom one has been retained. It is recognized that the scientist's testimony is often governed by the rules of evidence and/or the adversarial practice within a particular jurisdiction.
8. As an expert witness, the forensic scientists will make every effort to give a clear presentation before a judge or jury. The use of intentionally ambiguous or misleading language with the purpose of confusing an issue is unethical.
9. The open sharing of information concerning new techniques and developments in the field of forensic science is encouraged.
Article IV. Membership Liability and Sanctions
1. The functions of the Ethics Committee in the above areas will be two fold:
a. To conduct or supervise investigations and serve as a hearing agency regarding possible violations of the Code of Ethics.
b. To act in an advisory capacity giving opinions on the ramifications of potential actions by members, as related to the Code of Ethics.
2. Violations of the Code of Ethics
a. Material and intentional misinformation on the application for membership to the Corporation (NEAFS) may be sufficient reason for termination of membership.
b. Unethical conduct detrimental to the profession or the Corporation (NEAFS), or serious unethical conduct per se, which are not specified in Articles II or III are also considered violations of the Code of Ethics.
c. Penalties for the above listed infractions of the Code of Ethics may range from censure to termination of membership for the person involved. Any penalties already specified in the by-laws (Article VI, Section 9.c-e) will take precedence for certain offenses.
3. Implementation of the Investigative and Judiciary Process:
a. Investigative action may be initiated in either of the following ways:
i. As stated in the by-laws (Article VI, Section 9.c) any person may initiate proceedings concerning unethical behavior by filing charges with the Ethics Committee and the Executive Secretary in writing. Any person with membership in this Corporation (NEAFS) may initiate proceedings concerning conduct detrimental to the Corporation (NEAFS), by filing written charges with Executive Secretary and the Ethics committee. Charges filed in the above manner must have a reasonable foundation and are not to be arbitrary or capricious.
ii. The Ethics Committee itself may initiate an investigation based on evidence brought to its attention, which necessitates further inquiry under the Code of Ethics.
b. Copies of the written charges filed with the Ethics Committee will be supplied immediately to the accused and the Board of Directors.
c. If in the opinion of the Ethics Committee, further investigation of the charges is necessary, the Committee will do so. The Ethics Committee may appoint any regular member(s) it reasonably needs to aid in its investigation. If a hearing is deemed necessary, the accused shall have the right of confrontation with the accuser(s) before the full Ethics Committee.
d. The Ethics Committee will then include a recommendation in its report to the Board of Directors, specifying either censure, suspension, expulsion or acquittal of charges. The Board of Directors is not bound to follow the recommendation of the Ethics Committee.
e. The Board of Directors by a 3/4 vote of the Directors not charged, present and voting, and with a minimum of four votes cast for the action selected, may enforce censure or suspension, or by similar vote may recommend expulsion of the accused to the membership. The accused shall have the right to appeal censure or suspension to the entire membership as per the section 3.f through 3.I of this Article. In the event that the Board selects censure or suspension the accused must be notified of such action at least 90 days prior to the annual meeting so that the accused may appeal to the full membership.
f. The appellant must file a typewritten appeal, along with any supporting statements in his behalf, with the Executive Secretary not less than sixty (60) days prior to the next Annual Meeting of the Corporation (NEAFS). The Executive Secretary shall immediately advise the members of the Board of Directors of the appeal and shall send each of them a copy of the appeal and supporting statements.
g. The Board of Directors will then prepare a written statement of the reasons for its decision and file a copy with the Executive Secretary not less than forty-five (45) days prior to the Annual Meeting.
h. The Executive Secretary 35 days prior to the Annual Meeting will mail to each voting member of the Corporation (NEAFS) a copy of the appellant's appeal and supporting statements, in addition to a copy of the Board of Director's statement.
i. A vote of three-quarters (3/4) of the voting members in attendance at the Annual Meeting will be required to overrule the action of the Board of Directors regarding censure or suspension.
j. If the Board of Directors in pursuant to Section 3.e above or the Board of Directors or Ethics Committee pursuant to the by-laws Article VI, Section 9.e, recommend to the full membership expulsion of the charged member, the Board or the Ethics Committee must notify the charged member of such intent in writing at least (90) days prior to the Annual Meeting at which time the vote will be taken. The charged member has the right to present a reasonable statement in his defense to the membership, but in order to exercise this right the member must file a written appeal and supporting statements. The Board of Directors or Ethics Committee must also file written statements. The procedure to follow by the appellant, and the Board of Directors or Ethics Committee is the same required for appeal of censure, or suspension and is outlined in Section 3.f though 3.h of this Article.
4. If the accused member is acquitted of the charges by the Board of Directors such acquittal shall be complete and no further punitive action shall be taken by any member of or by the Corporation (NEAFS).
5. After an action of suspension or expulsion has become final, a notice will be published in the Newsletter advising that the individual has been suspended or expelled. After an action of censure has become final, a notice will be published in the Newsletter that the censure action occurred. A record of censure, suspension of expulsion shall be maintained in the individual's permanent record.
6. If a member against whom charges have been filed resigns, a record will be maintained in the members file that the resignation occurred with charges pending.
7. Reinstatement of a member after suspension will be automatic when the period of the suspension has ended. A former member who has been expelled may apply to the Board of Directors for reinstatement in the Corporation (NEAFS) after a period of time no less than one year from the time of his expulsion. A unanimous vote of the Board of Directors and a vote of 3/4 of the voting membership present at the next Annual Meeting will then be necessary for reinstatement of the expelled person. In order to be aware of the ethical standards expected by the Corporation (NEAFS) and possible violations of the Code of Ethics, every member will receive a copy of the Code of Ethics whether it is incorporated into the by-laws or becomes a separate publication of its own. It is the responsibility of the individual member to read the Code of Ethics and be aware of its implications.