What are 'Matters Arising'?
Having completed thousands of criminal cases in several countries, inevitably we come across many interesting matters arising from some of those cases. These 'Matters Arising' may be of interest to the wider forensic, scientific, legal, and indeed general community. We provide them to further the cause of 'better science, better justice'.
Naturally, we see only a tiny proportion of the cases that may provide important learning points, so if you have case that you think provides and interesting Matter Arising, please email us via our contact page and we will consider presenting it on these pages.
Confusion in Court on LCN/LTDNA profiles
The potential for misunderstanding of one Court following the judgment of another without the full knowledge of the facts and nuances that led to the published judgment are evidenced between the cases of Reed & Garmson in the Appeal Court in England and Wales, and the case of Wallace in New Zealand. This article illustrates how confusion has arisen and clarifies the issue with respect to Low Template (LTDNA) or Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA profiles.
Low Template DNA and Database hits
Suspects are frequently identified by comparing profiles recovered from crimestains to profiles of individuals held on the National DNA Database. Partial profiles are ferquently searched. Even what can appear to be 'complete' profiles derived from Low Template DNA (LCN) may nevertheless be incomplete. Instead of the DNA type being used in the search, a 'wildcard', the letter 'F' is used. We have been involved in cases where the F is changed to an allele matching the suspect, but only AFTER the search; a dangerous development.
Recent trials in which we have been involved have seen the introduction of statistics using complex and not widely accepted computer programmes to produce statistics for profiles that the DNA expert has been unable to provide statistics using conventional methods. Debate continues within the scientific community even about the best way to interpret mixtures with clear, unambiguous alleles. Some of these exhibit the features normally associated with Low Template DNA (LTDNA); that is, variable results. The interpretation of such profiles remains controversial with various approaches being proposed.
The report and recommendations of the Fingerprint Inquiry in the case of Shirley McKie has finally emerged. The report will join the very few that will have international and important repercussions for forensic practice. The Forensic Institute welcome the main findings of the report.
Casework enquiries >>
Confusion in Court on DNA>>
Comment on Reed & Garmson>>
Judgement in Wallace (NZ) pdf>>
The F Word>>
Expert systems in DNA interpretation>>
Comment on the Scottish Fingerprint Enquiry>>
New Scientist article on Shaken Baby Syndrome, 2010>>
Editorial in New Scientist on Shaken Baby Syndrome, 2010>>
CPS Guidance on NAHI cases updated 2011>>
Article on SBS from Archives of Diseases in Childhood, 2006>>
Encyclopedia article on Shaken Baby Syndrome, 2009 (pdf) >>
Bad language in expert reports >>
A lawyer's guide to DNA profiling (pdf) »
Wileys Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences (Ed. A Jamieson and A. Moenssens) >>