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NCJ Number: 168853 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: DNA Dilemma
Journal: Corrections Compendium  Volume:22  Issue:5  Dated:May 1997  Pages:4-6
Author(s): E J Imwinkelried; G W Clarke; C Stephenson
Date Published: 1997
Page Count: 3
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
Washington, DC 20531
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Two commentaries on the use of DNA evidence focus on the findings of an NIJ-sponsored report on cases in which convicted persons were released from prison as a result of posttrial DNA testing of evidence.
Abstract: One commentary traces the requirements of the rules of evidence regarding the admissibility of scientific evidence, with particular attention to DNA evidence and testimony. The author advises that it is misleading to focus solely on the strengths and weaknesses of scientific evidence. In principle, the judgment must be comparative. To the extent that the court's discriminate against scientific evidence -- subjecting it to uniquely discriminatory, restrictive rules such as Frye -- the courts encourage reliance on other types of evidence that may be even less reliable, such as eyewitness testimony and hair and fiber analysis. The court's task should be to compare DNA evidence with other types of evidence to decide whether the differential treatment of scientific evidence is justifiable. The second commentary cautions that enthusiasm for the use and interpretation of DNA typing should be tempered, inasmuch as the vast majority of sexual assault cases (the most common type of case that involves DNA evidence) involve a perpetrator known to the victim. In such cases, identity is not the issue, but rather whether the sexual contact was consensual. In those cases where identity is an issue, police officers must be diligent in the searching for DNA evidence both at the scene and in or on the victim. DNA typing results, however, cannot explain precisely when, or how, or even why a sexual assault was committed. The victim must always be the primary and most important information source. 13 footnotes
Main Term(s): Science and Technology
Index Term(s): DNA fingerprinting; Rules of evidence; Scientific testimony; Sex offenses; Suspect identification
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