COMMENT: CONVICTIONS PREDICATED ON DNA EVIDENCE ALONE: HOW RELIABLE EVIDENCE BECAME INFALLIBLE Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2007 Cumberland Law Review
Cumberland Law Review

COMMENT: CONVICTIONS PREDICATED ON DNA EVIDENCE ALONE: HOW RELIABLE EVIDENCE BECAME INFALLIBLE

2007 - 2008

Cumberland Law Review

38 Cumb. L. Rev. 313

Author

Brooke G. Malcom

Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

When describing the moment he stumbled upon one of the most important developments in both the science and criminal justice fields, Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys remembered, "It was a eureka moment" 1 In September 1984, Jeffreys discovered DNA fingerprinting and transformed forensic identification. 2 Years later, Jeffreys warned against "thoroughly dangerous" bids to boost the power of DNA fingerprinting. 3 Though Jeffreys recognized the significance of his "eureka moment," he questioned the ability of man to resist its misuse. 4 It appears Jeffreys' warning has not been universally heeded.

In the criminal justice field, DNA evidence has been heralded as a powerful tool for both conviction and exoneration. 5 Since the onset of DNA typing in the mid-1980s, courts have admitted DNA evidence and have taken judicial notice of the science underlying DNA testing. 6 In fact, some state legislatures have passed statutes recognizing the reliability and admissibility of DNA evidence. 7 It is well settled that DNA evidence, absent extraordinary circumstances, will be admitted into court. 8 As a result, DNA evidence does not raise admissibility concerns; but, there are concerns over evidentiary weight. 9

DNA has produced visible and important benefits in the legal community. For instance, there are plenty of well-documented cases of defendants who were set free as a result of DNA testing after being wrongly incarcerated. 10 DNA evidence has also aided in pointing out weaknesses in traditional evidence; for instance, DNA exonerations have shed light on questionable confessions and dubious eyewitness ...
 
 
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