CONSULTING AND EDUCATION IN FORENSIC SCIENCE
Specializing in Criminal Matters
Importance of an Independent Expert
To Reanalyze or Not to Reanalyze?
DNA Trial Attorney's Toolbox
Case Review and Consultation, Expert Witness Testimony, and Education
Norah Rudin, Ph.D.
Keith Inman, M.Crim.
Either of us are able review DNA typing results and help you interpret them in the context of your case. We consider ourselves advocates for good science and have assisted both prosecution and defense. A main goal is to educate both forensic scientists and legal professionals about the advantages and limitations inherent in the different types of DNA testing.
We are both court qualified as Expert Witnesses in Forensic DNA Analysis and General Criminalistics and prepared to offer testimony.
Professor Inman is also qualified in bloodstain pattern analysis, crime scene examination, and crime scene reconstruction.
Please note that by policy, neither of us accept cases directly from individuals who are involved in the case, or cases that are being handled pro per.
Contact Keith Inman
Find out how a clerical transcription led to a false inclusion:
One of the first questions an attorney with a new DNA case might ask is, should the evidence be reanalyzed? As with all forensic questions, this depends on the circumstances of the case. The following will provide some guidelines to help you make that decision and also to plan your case strategy.
The most critical aspect of any review centers on the specifics of the laboratory results. The general questions to be answered include: 1) Do the data support the conclusions and 2) Do the conclusions concord with other data and information about the case? To answer these questions, it is necessary to review the laboratory report, the notes of the analyst that performed the work, the data upon which the conclusions are based, and also the police report, case synopsis and any presumptive testing that was done before DNA analysis. Because the significance of the conclusions rests, in part, on the population frequencies provided, the source of the frequencies, and evidence of their validity must be provided. Sometimes it is necessary to obtain frequencies for population groups not provided by the laboratory. Sometimes other information may be required as well, depending on the outcome of the preliminary review.
Depending on the results of the review, independent testing of any remaining sample may or may not be recommended. In most cases, it is more productive to direct both efforts and funding into the critical review defined above. It is more common for scientists to differ in the interpretation of results than to discount results completely. Unless an analysis is severely flawed, independent analysis would be unlikely to produce radically different results. Instances in which independent testing might be indicated include but are not limited to:
1) retesting of a reference sample when the only evidence is a database hit
2) a finding of incorrect or inappropriate analysis by the laboratory
3) the possibility that testing of additional genetic markers might expose differences between the reference and evidence samples that were not detected in the original analysis
4) items of interest that were not tested by the laboratory.
Even if no glaring errors exist in the analysis, every case has a weak spot andassistance may be provided to develop this may be probed during cross-examination. A large part of the expert’s job is to educate the attorney about potentially complicated scientific material, and assist him in understanding how the advantages and disadvantages of any particular system apply to the case at hand. It is can also useful for the expert to be available not only as a potential witness, but as a consultant during cross-examination of opposing counsel’s witnesses.
SWGDAM Interpretation Guidelines for Y-STR typing by Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories 2014
NFSTC on-line resources