DNA evidence: Protecting the ‘Gold Standard’?

A couple of stories from around the world this week have highlighted again, concerns that DNA evidence may be being abused, corrupted or misinterpreted, resulting in injustices. DNA evidence is often heavily relied upon by investigators, lawyers and judges and juries alike. In many cases, this may be justified, but certainly not in ALL cases. In India, there is confusion over DNA reports concerning the case of the French DiplomatĀ Pascal Mazurier, accused of raping his daughter. The test report from the laboratory in Bangalore is said to be‘confusing’ and‘inconclusive’. Read more here…. and here….

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Meanwhile, in Cook County, Illinois, a disturbing report of a rape case being prosecuted with DNA, reportedly taken from the victim’s lips, with a match given of ’1 in 4 African American Males’. If this is the case, then this is truly shocking. Indeed, reports claim that the DNA analyst admitted that on one reading of the DNA profile, the defendant could be excluded. That such a weak ‘result’ could be the basis of a prosecution, or even simply adduced as evidence, is very worrying indeed. Read more here…. and here….

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Of course, DNA evidence still remains powerful, used in the right cases, with appropriate safeguards and caveats etc. It does not however, demand the slavish adherence to a belief in it’s infallibility, a faith demonstrated earlierĀ this week by one (anonymous) Australia DNA expert (read here….with incredulity), who argues that Australia doesn’t have miscarriages of justice because of its use of DNA from highly regulated laboratories. If only that were true….

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