English geneticist Alec Jeffreys first described a method for “typing” human DNA in 1985. Since that time, DNA typing technology has advanced rapidly and the new DNA tests have been embraced eagerly by the criminal justice system. DNA tests are now routinely used to help identify the source of blood, semen, hair and other biological materials found at crime scenes and to establish family relationships in cases of disputed parentage. DNA tests have helped prosecutors obtain convictions in thousands of cases and have helped establish the innocence of thousands of individuals who might otherwise have become suspects.
Though it has been invaluable to the justice system, DNA evidence has the potential to be tremendously misleading in some cases. DNA tests can be botched, misinterpreted, mischaracterized and misunderstood. Cases have come to light in which innocent people were convicted based on bad DNA evidence. Controversy continues over how to assure the reliability of DNA tests and how to describe the statistical significance of test results. The issues lawyers face when dealing with DNA evidence can be extraordinarily complex and confusing.
Buckleton, J. Good forensic science. Powerpoint presentation.
Crow, J. DNA forensics: past, present, and future.
Krane, D. and Raymer, M. (2003). Chapter 1: Molecular biology and biological chemistry. Fundamentals Concepts of Bioinformatics. Pearson Benjamin Cummings.
Thompson, W., Ford, S., Doom, T., Raymer, M., and Krane, D. (2003). Evaluating forensic DNA evidence: Essential elements of a competent defense review. Part 1. The Champion, 27(3):16-25, April 2003.
Thompson, W., Ford, S., Doom, T., Raymer, M., and Krane, D. (2003). Evaluating forensic DNA evidence: Essential elements of a competent defense review. Part 2. The Champion, 27(4):24-28, May 2003.
Thompson, W. and Krane, D. (2003). Chapter 11: DNA in the courtroom. Psychological and Scientific Evidence in Criminal Trials. West Group.
DNA discovery motion. Microsoft Word format.
DNA discovery motion. Wordperfect format.
Forensic Bioinformatics and GenophilerTM
Return to main page