A fantastic new publication is available for criminal defense attorneys working on cases with DNA evidence. DNA for the Defense Bar was published by the National Institute of Justice in June 2012 and is available for free download here. Normally I don’t recommend printing out publications because I love trees, but this is one resource that you’ll want to print out and keep on hand when you’re working on cases with DNA evidence.
This manual was written by a group of experienced defense attorneys and DNA experts including Jack Ballantyne, Catherine Cothran, Jules Epstein, Christine Funk, Chris Plourd, Vanessa Potkin, Ron Reinstein, and Edward Ungvarsky. Its approach to basic and advanced topics is easy to understand. The manual contains excellent examples and figures so that attorneys can visualize the concepts discussed and compare the figures in the manual to lab reports in their own cases.There are clear explanations of topics such as artifacts, interpretation of results, cold case hits and CODIS, DNA collection issues, laboratory issues, newer techniques such as mtDNA and Y-STR, and statistics. There is a glossary that attorneys can use to understand the concepts in this publication and the language used in lab reports.
In addition to explaining the science and techniques of DNA analysis, the manual offers advice on topics such as opening and closing statements, jury selection, and cross examination. This is a great reference for any attorney working on cases with DNA evidence.