Introduction to Forensic DNA Evidence for Criminal Justice Professionals

Introduction to Forensic DNA Evidence for Criminal Justice Professionals

Paperback

By (author) Jane Moira Taupin

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  • Publisher: CRC Press Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 226mm x 14mm | 320g
  • Publication date: 31 July 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Bosa Roca
  • ISBN 10: 1439899096
  • ISBN 13: 9781439899090
  • Illustrations note: 11 black & white illustrations, 2 black & white tables
  • Sales rank: 596,132

Product description

The use of DNA profiling in forensic cases has been considered the most innovative technique in forensic science since fingerprinting, yet for those with limited scientific knowledge, understanding DNA enough to utilize it properly can be a daunting task. Introduction to Forensic DNA Evidence for Criminal Justice Professionals is designed for nonscientific readers who need to learn how to effectively use forensic DNA in criminal cases. Written by a forensic scientist world renowned for her expertise in clothing examination, the book provides a balanced perspective on the weight of DNA evidence. Going beyond a simple explanation of the methodology, it arms attorneys and other criminal justice professionals with knowledge of the strengths and limitations of the evidence, including the danger in relying on DNA statistical probabilities in the determination of guilt. The book covers the most common DNA methods used in criminal trials today-nuclear DNA short tandem repeat (STR) techniques, mitochondrial DNA, and Y-STR profiling. It helps prosecutors know when to emphasize DNA evidence or proceed with trial in the absence of such evidence. It assists defense lawyers in knowing when to challenge DNA evidence and perhaps employ an independent expert, when to focus elsewhere, or when to secure the advantage of an early guilty plea. By imparting practical and theoretical knowledge in an accessible manner, the book demystifies the topic to help both sides of the adversarial system understand where DNA evidence fits within the context of the case.

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Author information

Jane Moira Taupin obtained a Bachelor of Science with Honours from the University of Melbourne in Australia. She has presented biological expert evidence in courts of law since 1987 and has presented DNA profiling evidence in court since 1999. She earned a postgraduate diploma along with an MA, both in criminology from the University of Melbourne. Her master's thesis in 1994 on the impact of DNA profiling was one of the first in the field. She is currently an independent forensic consultant and trainer. She has published many articles in peer-reviewed journals discussing trace evidence, clothing damage, and blood pattern analysis and has also co-authored a text on the forensic examination of clothing.

Review quote

... a valuable introduction, with many useful examples. The limitations of the subject, the need for caution in interpretation and problems such as contamination and degradation are expertly handled. -Graham Fricke, QC, retired County Court Judge Overall this book is very clearly written. The author is able to simplify complex scientific terms and concepts into information understandable by a wide audience with divers experiences and backgrounds ... This book will serve as a great reference for nonscientists who routinely encounter DNA evidence within the criminal justice system and for students interested in an introduction to forensic DNA evidence. -Book review by Krista E. Latham, PhD, appearing in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, July 2014, Vol. 59, No. 4

Table of contents

History of forensic DNA profiling in criminal investigations Discovery of structure and importance of DNA molecule: A Nobel prize DNA and concept of individuality Alec Jeffreys and the world's first murder case solved by DNA Early criminal court challenges to DNA technology Changing the face of forensic science: The value of biological evidence Strengths and limitations of DNA profiling evidence Introduction: Power and caution Discrimination power of DNA profiling Genetic basis for DNA profiling Stability of DNA profiling Persuasive statistics Relatives DNA databases DNA intelligence-led policing Mass disasters DNA evidence in context Time of deposition: Transfer and persistence of DNA Relevant evidence? Relevant exhibits? "CSI effect" and the notion of infallible forensic evidence Relationships of lawyers and scientists DNA profiling basics What is DNA? Biological materials allowing DNA profiling Reference samples Current profiling technique: Short tandem repeats (STRs) Reading tables of alleles Obtaining DNA profiles Time required to obtain DNA profiles Designating peaks Case documentation and review Evidential value and statistics Interpreting DNA profiles Statistical approaches and obtaining final statistics Legal fallacies Understanding reports: Common phrases and their meanings Sampling correction and uncertainty Relevant population and impact on statistical value Relatives Partial profiles, low levels, and mixtures Partial profiles Low level and suboptimal profiles DNA mixtures from two or more people Mixture interpretation steps Low template mixtures Complex mixtures Y-STR profiling Benefits Theory Statistics Number of male contributors to Y- STR profile Determining mixture ratios Combining statistics from autosomal and Y-STR profiling Other DNA techniques including mitochondrial DNA DNA analysis of bone Mitochondrial DNA basics Statistics in mitochondrial DNA analysis Contamination Mixture mitochondrial DNA profiles Familial DNA searching Domestic animal hair Other techniques Concerns and controversies Quality issues Relevant sample testing Contamination Interpretation issues Error rates Overreliance on DNA technology Interpretation of DNA profiles: Objectivity and subjectivity Retesting of samples Adversarial system Misconception about exact science Obligations DNA pointers for criminal justice professionals Advantages of DNA profiling Querying DNA evidence: Advice for the prosecution and the defense Warning signs Was all evidence tested? Pretrial review Suggested cross-examination questions Discovery requests Appendix A: Glossary of terms used in reports and testimony Appendix B: Selected DNA issues and case examples Appendix C: Steps in review of evidence Index