Misleading DNA Evidence: A Guide for Scientists, Judges, and Lawyers presents the reasons miscarriages of justice can occur when dealing with DNA, what the role of the forensic scientist is throughout the process, and how judges and lawyers can educate themselves about all of the possibilities to consider when dealing with cases that involve DNA evidence. DNA has become the gold standard by which a person can be placed at the scene of a crime, and the past decade has seen great advances in this powerful crime solving tool. But the statistics that analysts can attach to DNA evidence often vary, and in some cases the statistical weight assigned to that match, can vary enormously. The numbers provided to juries often overstate the evidence, and can result in a wrongful conviction. In addition to statistics, the way the evidence is collected, stored and analyzed can also result in a wrongful conviction due to contamination. This book reviews high-profile and somewhat contentious cases to illustrate these points, including the death of Meredith Kercher. It examines crucial topics such as characterization of errors and determination of error rates, reporting DNA profiles and the source and sub-source levels, and the essentials of statement writing. It is a concise, readable resource that will help not only scientists, but legal professionals with limited scientific backgrounds, to understand the intricacies of DNA use in the justice system. Ideal reference for scientists and for those without extensive scientific backgrounds Written by one of the pioneers in forensic DNA typing and interpretation of DNA profiling results Ideal format for travel, court environments, or wherever easy access to reference material is vital
DNA has become the gold standard by which a person can be placed at the scene of a crime, and the past decade has seen great advances in this powerful crime solving tool. But the statistics that analysts can attach to DNA evidence often vary, and in some cases the statistical weight assigned to that match, can vary enormously. The numbers provided to juries often overstate the evidence, and can result in a wrongful conviction. In addition to statistics, the way the evidence is collected, stored and analyzed can also result in a wrongful conviction due to contamination. This book reviews high-profile and somewhat contentious cases to illustrate these points, including the death of Meredith Kercher. It examines crucial topics such as characterization of errors and determination of error rates, reporting DNA profiles and the source and sub-source levels, and the essentials of statement writing. It is a concise, readable resource that will help not only scientists, but legal professionals with limited scientific backgrounds, to understand the intricacies of DNA use in the justice system.
In 1992 the National Research Council issued DNA Technology in Forensic Science, a book that documented the state of the art in this emerging field. Recently, this volume was brought to worldwide attention in the murder trial of celebrity O. J. Simpson. The Evaluation of Forensic DNA Evidence reports on developments in population genetics and statistics since the original volume was published. The committee comments on statements in the original book that proved controversial or that have been misapplied in the courts. This volume offers recommendations for handling DNA samples, performing calculations, and other aspects of using DNA as a forensic tool--modifying some recommendations presented in the 1992 volume. The update addresses two major areas: Determination of DNA profiles. The committee considers how laboratory errors (particularly false matches) can arise, how errors might be reduced, and how to take into account the fact that the error rate can never be reduced to zero. Interpretation of a finding that the DNA profile of a suspect or victim matches the evidence DNA. The committee addresses controversies in population genetics, exploring the problems that arise from the mixture of groups and subgroups in the American population and how this substructure can be accounted for in calculating frequencies. This volume examines statistical issues in interpreting frequencies as probabilities, including adjustments when a suspect is found through a database search. The committee includes a detailed discussion of what its recommendations would mean in the courtroom, with numerous case citations. By resolving several remaining issues in the evaluation of this increasingly important area of forensic evidence, this technical update will be important to forensic scientists and population geneticists--and helpful to attorneys, judges, and others who need to understand DNA and the law. Anyone working in laboratories and in the courts or anyone studying this issue should own this book.
Matching DNA samples from crime scenes and suspects is rapidly becoming a key source of evidence for use in our justice system. DNA Technology in Forensic Science offers recommendations for resolving crucial questions that are emerging as DNA typing becomes more widespread. The volume addreses key issues: Quality and reliability in DNA typing, including the introduction of new technologies, problems of standardization, and approaches to certification. DNA typing in the courtroom, including issues of population genetics, levels of understanding among judges and juries, and admissibility. Societal issues, such as privacy of DNA data, storage of samples and data, and the rights of defendants to quality testing technology. Combining this original volume with the new update--The Evaluation of Forensic DNA Evidence--provides the complete, up-to-date picture of this highly important and visible topic. This volume offers important guidance to anyone working with this emerging law enforcement tool: policymakers, specialists in criminal law, forensic scientists, geneticists, researchers, faculty, and students.
A clear and comprehensive guide to the scientific and legal issues surrounding forensic DNA testing.
The development of DNA technology furthers the search for truth by helping police & prosecutors in the fight against violent crime. Most of the individuals whose stories are told in the report were convicted after jury trials & were sentenced to long prison terms. They successfully challenged their convictions, using DNA tests on existing evidence. They had served, on average, seven years in prison. By highlighting the importance & utility of DNA evidence, this report presents challenges to the scientific & justice communities. A task ahead is to maintain the highest standards for the collection & preservation of DNA evidence.
Josiah Sutton was convicted of rape. He was five inches shorter and 65 pounds lighter than the suspect described by the victim, but at trial a lab analyst testified that his DNA was found at the crime scene. His case looked like many others—arrest, swab, match, conviction. But there was just one problem—Sutton was innocent. We think of DNA forensics as an infallible science that catches the bad guys and exonerates the innocent. But when the science goes rogue, it can lead to a gross miscarriage of justice. Erin Murphy exposes the dark side of forensic DNA testing: crime labs that receive little oversight and produce inconsistent results; prosecutors who push to test smaller and poorer-quality samples, inviting error and bias; law-enforcement officers who compile massive, unregulated, and racially skewed DNA databases; and industry lobbyists who push policies of “stop and spit.” DNA testing is rightly seen as a transformative technological breakthrough, but we should be wary of placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of the same broken criminal justice system that has produced mass incarceration, privileged government interests over personal privacy, and all too often enforced the law in a biased or unjust manner. Inside the Cell exposes the truth about forensic DNA, and shows us what it will take to harness the power of genetic identification in service of accuracy and fairness.
The fascinating story behind the innocence movement's quest for justice. Documentaries like Making a Murderer, the first season of Serial, and the cause célèbre that was the West Memphis Three captured the attention of millions and focused the national discussion on wrongful convictions. This interest is warranted: more than 1,800 people have been set free in recent decades after being convicted of crimes they did not commit. In response to these exonerations, federal and state governments have passed laws to prevent such injustices; lawyers and police have changed their practices; and advocacy organizations have multiplied across the country. Together, these activities are often referred to as the “innocence movement.” Exonerated provides the first in-depth look at the history of this movement through interviews with key leaders such as Barry Scheck and Rob Warden as well as archival and field research into the major cases that brought awareness to wrongful convictions in the United States. Robert Norris also examines how and why the innocence movement took hold. He argues that while the innocence movement did not begin as an organized campaign, scientific, legal, and cultural developments led to a widespread understanding that new technology and renewed investigative diligence could both catch the guilty and free the innocent. Exonerated reveals the rich background story to this complex movement.
Uses case studies to examine how investigators collect genetic evidence and discusses how DNA has altered crime-solving and the court system as well as the ethical ramifications of cloning, genetic modification, and the death penalty.
This book is about the increasing significance of DNA profiling for crime investigation in modern society. It focuses on developments in the UK as the world-leader in the development and application of forensic DNA technology and in the construction of DNA databases as an essential element in the successful use of DNA for forensic purposes. The book uses data collected during the course of Wellcome Trust funded research into police uses of the UK National DNA Database (NDNAD) to describe the relationship between scientific knowledge and police investigations. It is illustrated throughout by reference to some of the major UK criminal cases in which DNA evidence has been presented and contested.
|Author||: National Research Council,Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences,Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics,Policy and Global Affairs,Committee on Science, Technology, and Law,Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Sciences Community|
|Publisher||: National Academies Press|
|Release Date||: 2009-07-29|
|ISBN 10||: 0309142393|
|Pages||: 348 pages|
Scores of talented and dedicated people serve the forensic science community, performing vitally important work. However, they are often constrained by lack of adequate resources, sound policies, and national support. It is clear that change and advancements, both systematic and scientific, are needed in a number of forensic science disciplines to ensure the reliability of work, establish enforceable standards, and promote best practices with consistent application. Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward provides a detailed plan for addressing these needs and suggests the creation of a new government entity, the National Institute of Forensic Science, to establish and enforce standards within the forensic science community. The benefits of improving and regulating the forensic science disciplines are clear: assisting law enforcement officials, enhancing homeland security, and reducing the risk of wrongful conviction and exoneration. Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States gives a full account of what is needed to advance the forensic science disciplines, including upgrading of systems and organizational structures, better training, widespread adoption of uniform and enforceable best practices, and mandatory certification and accreditation programs. While this book provides an essential call-to-action for congress and policy makers, it also serves as a vital tool for law enforcement agencies, criminal prosecutors and attorneys, and forensic science educators.