A Litigator's Guide to DNA

From the Laboratory to the Courtroom


  • Ron Michaelis, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC, USA
  • Robert Flanders, Distinguished Visiting Professor (2004-2005) and Adjunct Professor of Law at Roger Williams University School of Law (2005 to date), and Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Department of Law and Public Policy at Brown University (2004 to date).
  • Paula Wulff, Program Manager-Senior Attorney, National District Attorneys Association/American Prosecutors Research Institute's DNA Forensics Program

A Litigator's Guide to DNA educates litigators, judges, criminalists, students, and others about all aspects of the use of DNA evidence in criminal and civil trials. It includes discussions of the molecular biological basis for the tests, essential laboratory practices, probability theory and mathematical calculations. It presents issues relevant to all parties involved in trying a case, from the prosecution and the defense, and to the judge and jury. The book is also extremely useful as a text for students aspiring to careers in forensic science and criminal law.The authors provide a full background on both the molecular biology and the mathematical theory behind forensic tests written specifically for people with little or no science background. No other book relates the foundational information on molecular biology and statistics to legal practice issues as extensively as this book does.
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Lawyers, judges, forensic scientists who offer expert testimony involving DNA evidence, students in forensic science and criminal justice programs


Book information

  • Published: January 2008
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-374036-6

Table of Contents

The Structure of DNA and the Variability of the Human DNA Sequence; The Molecular Biological Basis of Forensic DNA Tests; Quality Control, Quality Assurance and Sources of Uncertainty in the Data; Population Genetics, Probability Calculations and the Proper Interpretation of the Evidence; Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) Analyses; Y Chromosome Analyses; DNA in Court; Arguing for the Prosecution; Arguing for the Defense; Post-Conviction DNA Testing; Using the Chi Square Test to Determine if a Population Conforms to HWE Expectations; How the RMP, Prior Odds of Guilt, and the PFP Influence the Posterior Odds of Guilty (POG); Peternity Index (PI) Calculations for Different Combinations of Maternal, Child and Alleged Father Genotypes; Sample Consent Form; Doing Your Own Research: Useful References, Websites and Strategies for Finding Current Information