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The following article is brought to you by the Reiff & Bily Philadelphia product liability lawyers. If you have been injured by an unsafe product you are encouraged to contact an injury lawyer in your area and find out what your rights are.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission is an independent federal agency that exists to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the more than 15,000 kinds of consumer products sold under the agency’s jurisdiction.

The CPSC was formed by Congress in 1972 in correlation with the Consumer Product Safety Act to protect the public “against unreasonable risks of injuries associated with consumer products.” It is headed by five commissioners who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The agency has two offices in Maryland and one office in China.

The CPSC exercises their methods of protection by developing voluntary standards with organizations, businesses and manufacturers. The commission must inform and educate consumers and manufacturers worldwide about the safety standards that they develop. They then research and test potential product hazards, and issue and enforce mandatory standards by banning and recalling products that do not comply. The CPSC is also responsible for arranging for repair, replacement and/or refunds of the products that they do recall.

The CPSC encourages consumers to report any safety concern through their website, telephone, fax or mail. The CPSC regards every concern with great importance, and agency staff reviews all complaints. If the reported product is investigated, a CPSC investigator will contact the concerned party and communicate with them whether or not the investigation called for a recall action will be taken.

Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the U.S. more than $900 billion every year, and the CPSC is committed to decreasing that rate. The agency has contributed to a decline in the occurrence of consumer product-related deaths in the past 30 years.

Reiff & Bily

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Philadelphia, PA 19107

(215) 246-9000

You’ve probably seen them on television, but what is the job of a crime scene investigator really like? A lot of different things go into preserving a crime scene. It’s the first place a police investigation starts and almost always the best source of evidence, so employing trained professionals who can secure the perimeter and make sure it remains unspoiled is of utmost important to the police department or FBI, especially if you live in a large, crime-filled urban area. Crime scene investigators look for the basic elements of a crime right down to the tiniest details. While forensic science and new technology can be the most interesting part of the job in fiction and even in life, they are no substitute for the keen investigative skills of people who can identify the human elements of crime.

1. What Happens When a Crime is Reported?

Much of the initial duties for preserving a crime scene lie with the first police officer to arrive. The officer will assess the situation, determine what crime was committed and whether there is any immediate danger, as well as whether there are victims requiring medical attention. It might be surprising how thoroughly the officer has to document his or her actions – even to the point of taking information from wounded or dying victims. After that, the officer will guard the perimeter until investigators can reach the scene and set up barriers. They will rope off an area larger than the scene to keep civilians and other onlookers away, and then rope off a smaller area inside that it is absolutely vital to preserve.

2. Collecting Physical Evidence

Crime scene investigators are concerned with establishing proof of the key elements of a crime. They can look for point of entry, taking fingerprints and footprints, as well as things like impressions on fabrics and tire marks, to try and get a clear picture of who was there and what they did. Everything they collect must be properly stored, photographed, and labeled. Physical evidence can make all the difference in a court trial, because it is more infallible than the observations of witnesses. However, contaminated evidence can result in a criminal going free, so the handling of physical specimens and objects at a crime scene is always approached with the utmost care.

3. Documenting, Testing, and Sketching

The evidence that the CSI team collects goes straight to the lab for analyzing, then it goes to the lead detective on the case. The detective also receives reports from the investigators – all their notes, in chronological order. Usually, the investigators offer no theories, they just deliver the facts of what was discovered at the scene. This can also include crime scene sketching, to show the relationship of areas and items that might otherwise be obscured by photographs. In areas outside of large cities, the crime scene investigators can be skilled in other areas of investigation too, and they can interview witnesses and victims to better understand the evidence and establish the most probable scenario for the crime.

The CSI unit that analyzes the scene of a crime can include many specialists such as medical examiners and forensic scientists. Every situation presents its own challenges, and crime scene investigation can actually be like a puzzle – putting together all the pieces to form a picture of how and maybe even why a crime was committed. It can be a harrowing but rewarding job – knowing your skills are providing justice for victims and outsmarting even the smartest of criminals.

Kara Martin writes for forensics blogs. If you’re considering a criminal justice career, find research on PhD in Criminal Justice.

Guest legal blog post regarding the ancient Greek legal system.

Ancient Greece was the incubator for many of the concepts of democracy, including the basics of court systems. The United States court system is an extension of the English common law system because the Founders were familiar with the concepts, but wanted to implement some needed changes. The First Continental Congress placed in the original Constitution that colonists were entitled to “life, liberty, and property…and the common law of England” (


Methods of accusation in Ancient Greece were different also, and the process was highly political in some cases. There was no prosecutor or police. The political component is clearly true of the most famous case associated with the Athenian court system, which is the prosecution of Socrates. The trial of Socrates provides significant understanding of the trial process in Ancient Greece. Although there was no uniform Greek law system, the basics of the trials were the same everywhere (


All that was necessary for indictment in the Ancient Greece legal system was an accusation from a free Athenian citizen. There were no parameters for acceptable charges. The charges were presented in a hearing before a magistrate. The plaintiff was required to file the charge in writing, notify the respondent, and post it conspicuously near the local court yard for the community to see for a reasonable period. There was no concept of bail, as defendants were allowed to stay at home until the day of the trial (


The jury in Ancient Greece was different from the contemporary U.S. court system. With no prosecutor and no system indictment process, the jury was chosen by the court administration from a pool of around 6000 people. All jurors were required to be at least 30 years of age. The King of the particular city-state often functioned as the judge, and all trials were completed in one day. The jury size was determined by the regional population, but the Athenian court chose 500/501 jurors to avoid possible bribery (


The plaintiff presented their evidence during the morning session, as the defendant used the afternoon session for rebuttal. Once both litigant presentations were completed, there was a vote among the jurors. The decision was democratic, with the case being won by the litigant with the most votes. There was no deliberation among the jurors. The democratic use of the vote suggests that the burden of proof for the voting juror was preponderance of the evidence in criminal trials as well as civil trials ( The U.S. legal system recognizes the burden of proof at beyond a reasonable doubt for criminal conviction, reserving the 51-49 concept of preponderance for civil tort claims.


Concepts of punishment were significantly different from the U.S. system. The state did not practice incarceration as a criminal penalty. The litigants were also allowed to request a specific legal remedy, which essentially was a form of negotiation. The judge also had the authority to determine if a claim was sufficient for “polis” classification, which indicated a crime against the state. The trial of Socrates was for the polis crime of “corrupting the youth,” which was based on the religious impiety by vocally rejecting state-approved deities (

Ancient Greece clearly had an impact on Western Civilization through the concepts of justice and fairness. Civil tort trials, or trials that were requesting financial retribution, were usually settled by arbitration, though theft was criminal. Cases that did not rise to the level of the death penalty would often result in exile to a specific region or island. If the punishment was death, a number of processes were considered, along with the requested punishment by the convicted individual. The jury could essentially convict the defendant, but issue little punishment in the second-phase penalty vote (

About the author

This article was composed by Dennis Welby, a freelance writer and blogger based in the great city of San Antonio. Welby focuses his work on law, history, politics, ethics, philosophy and other subjects. For those who have legal needs be sure to view a top Bay Area Lawyer.