LTDNA Evidence on Trial

Article English OPEN
Roberts, Paul (2016)
  • Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
  • Journal: Frontiers in Genetics, volume 7 (issn: 1664-8021, eissn: 1664-8021)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3389/fgene.2016.00180/full, doi: 10.3389/fgene.2016.00180, pmc: PMC5078688
  • Subject: comparative criminal procedure | QH426-470 | Genetics | LTDNA profiling evidence | Original Research | expert evidence | interdisciplinarity | criminal adjudication | Law-Science

Adopting the interpretative/hermeneutical method typical of much legal scholarship, this article considers two sets of issues pertaining to LTDNA profiles as evidence in criminal proceedings. The section titled Expert Evidence as Forensic Epistemic Warrant addresses some rather large questions about the epistemic status and probative value of expert testimony in general. It sketches a theoretical model of expert evidence, highlighting five essential criteria: (1) expert competence; (2) disciplinary domain; (3) methodological validity; (4) materiality; and (5) legal admissibility. This generic model of expert authority, highlighting law's fundamentally normative character, applies to all modern forms of criminal adjudication, across Europe and farther afield. The section titled LTDNA Evidence in UK Criminal Trials then examines English and Northern Irish courts' attempts to get to grips with LTDNA evidence in recent cases. Better appreciating the ways in which UK courts have addressed the challenges of LTDNA evidence may offer some insights into parallel developments in other legal systems. Appellate court rulings follow a predictable judicial logic, which might usefully be studied and reflected upon by any forensic scientist or statistician seeking to operate effectively in criminal proceedings. Whilst each legal jurisdiction has its own unique blend of jurisprudence, institutions, cultures and historical traditions, there is considerable scope for comparative analysis and cross-jurisdictional borrowing and instruction. In the spirit of promoting more nuanced and sophisticated international interdisciplinary dialogue, this article examines UK judicial approaches to LTDNA evidence and begins to elucidate their underlying institutional logic. Legal argument and broader policy debates are not confined to considerations of scientific validity, contamination risks and evidential integrity, or associated judgments of legal admissibility or exclusion. They also crucially concern the manner in which LTDNA profiling results are presented and explained to factfinders in criminal trials.
  • References (6)

    Received: 17 May 2016

    Accepted: 26 September 2016

    Published: 25 October 2016

    Citation: Roberts P (2016) LTDNA Evidence on

    Trial. Front. Genet. 7:180.

    doi: 10.3389/fgene.2016.00180 56Cf. R v McIlkenny (1991) 93 Cr App R 287 (CA); R v Maguire (1992) 94 Cr App R 133 (CA); Sir John May, Inquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding the Convictions Arising Out of the Bomb Attacks on Guildford and Woolwich in 1974, HC Paper 556 (1990) and HC Paper 296 (1992); Mike Redmayne, “Expert Evidence and Scientific Disagreement” (1997) 30 UC Davis Law Reviw 1027; Clive Walker and Russell Stockdale, “Forensic Evidence and Terrorist Trials in the United Kingdom” (1995) 54 Cambridge Law Journal 69. 57R v Smith (Peter) [2011] 2 Cr App R 16, [2011] EWCA Crim 1296. See further, Simon A Cole and Andrew Roberts, “Certainty, Individualization and the Subjective Nature of Expert Fingerprint Evidence” [2012] Criminal Law Review 824; Jennifer L. Mnookin, “The Validity of Latent Fingerprint Identification: Confessions of a Fingerprinting Moderate” (2008) 7 Law, Probability and Risk 127; Robert Epstein, “Fingerprints Meet Daubert: The Myth of Fingerprint “Science” is Revealed” (2002) 75 Southern California Law Review 605. 58R v Reed and Reed; R v Garmson [2010] 1 Cr App R 23, [2009] EWCA Crim 2698, [107]. 59Ibid [103].

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