Links to articles
Casenote: LCN DNA analysis and opinion on transfer: R v Reed and Reed
International Journal of Evidence & Proof
15 Number 2 (2011) p161
Article in Barrister Magazine on science and the law>>
Letter from Allan Jamieson to Nature from TFI on regulation of forensic science in UK>>
( NATURE|Vol 464|29 April 2010, p.1266)
LCN - what now? >>
Wheate, Rhonda M. and Jamieson, Allan (2009) "A Tale of Two Approaches – The NAS Report and the Law Commission Consultation Paper on Forensic Science," International Commentary on Evidence: Vol. 7 : Iss. 2, Article 3.
Available at: http://www.bepress.com/ice/vol7/iss2/art3
The Philosophy of Forensic Scientific
Identification by Prof Jamieson (pdf) >>
Jamieson, A. "The Philosophy of Forensic Identification", Hastings Law Journal, 2008, Vol.59, pp1031-1046
Sequential unmasking and DNA >>
D. Krane, S. Ford, J. Gilder, K. Inman, A. Jamieson, R. Koppl, I. Kornfield, D. Risinger, N. Rudin, M. Taylor, W.C. Thompson. "Sequential unmasking: A means of minimizing observer effects in forensic DNA interpretation." Journal of Forensic Sciences. 2008;53(4):1006-7.
Case Note on Reed & Reed
"Low Copy Number DNA (LCN) analysis has acquired a high profile in forensic circles, but has gained more attention following judicial criticism of the technique’s reliability in the Omagh Bomb trial, R v Hoey. The judgement was quickly followed by a review conducted on behalf of the new Forensic Regulator (Caddy Review), which gave the technique an apparent clean bill of health. However, the conclusions set out in the review have attracted criticism and have not led to agreement about the general use of LCN analyses. The judgment in Reed & Reed deals with two issues. The first is the admissibility of evidence of this type of analysis. The second, and perhaps more contentious issue, concerns whether an expert witness ought to be permitted to provide an opinion as to the likelihood and means by which DNA might have been transferred to the place where it was discovered. ...
The judgment in Reed and Reed should not be viewed as having foreclosed the possibility
of challenges to the admissibility of LCN DNA analysis in future cases. These
clearly should be possible in what amount to the same conditions as they were
challenged before, the presence of variable results. Almost all LCN cases start with
amounts of DNA typically less than 100 picograms.
As to the criminal justice system’s faith in experience as evidence of scientific
expertise, whilst experience in science is useful, it augments but does not replace
the foundations of scientific knowledge. This decision, and similar recent
decisions, have undoubtedly stirred the wider scientific community to react to
what it sees as an attack on what gives science its enviable reputation (and value in
court): published, validated, peer-reviewed, experimentally controlled research as
the basis for operating procedures and interpretational rules for practical applications. "
This article expands the arguments.
Forensics: stronger scientific scrutiny needed in Britain
Articles and an editorial in one of the world's premier scientific journals, Nature, continue recent criticism of the need for better science in forensic science. In particular, one of the Nature articles focussed criticism on the technique of Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA. A technique designed to analyse amounts of DNA below that for which the standard kit was designed, and which has attracted adverse comment across the world.
In response to this criticism, Professor Allan Jamieson of The Forensic Institute had a letter published in Nature suggesting that the UK approach was unlikley to solve the problems of standards in forensic science and recommending a new review of the use of LCN methods.
"I look forward to the development of a satisfactory model in the United Kingdom.
In the short term, a fresh, deeper and wider look at the use of low-template DNA
techniques, particularly in casework, is overdue."
LCN – what now? (Published in Barrister Magazine)
Following the Appeal Court ruling in Reed & Reed in December 2009, Professor Allan Jamieson considers the potential implications for other Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA cases involving the use of DNA profiles below the stochastic threshold.
The NAS Report and the Law Commission Consultation Paper on Forensic Science
Recent publications from the National Academy of Science (USA) and the Law Commission (UK) provide an interesting contrast in approach to well documented and historic problems with the use of “scientific" evidence in legal proceedings. The NAS recommends a thorough assessment of the scientific bases of forensic science, to discern and improve the validity of the science before it can be considered suitable for court purposes. The UK approach more tentatively examines the legal admissibility of forensic science, leaving aside the more fundamental questions as to the inherent unreliability of the evidence. Drawing upon the American report and current experience in the UK, this paper proposes a more robust admissibility regime in the UK, including recognition and acceptance of the different roles of the prosecution and defence expert; more thorough and less combative disclosure by the prosecution; wider availability of validation data; and greater legal and research support for the thorough review of the “science" underlying forensic science.
This article was written by Dr Rhonda Wheate (formerly at TFI), and Professor Allan Jamieson
Response to the Forensic Science Regulator Consultation on Accreditation
IN 2009 the Forensic Science Regulator issued a consultation paper on the accreditation of forensic practitioners. We responded to that consultation. You can read our conclusion, or an edited web version of our response, or download a pdf of the actual response.
The Philosophy of Forensic Identification
This Article discusses some of the features that make a process
scientific, outlines the forensic process through which evidence must
travel, considers the principles and practice of individualization, and
finally describe the difficulties of assessing the significance of any
“match”, with particular emphasis on DNA profiling.
Sequential unmasking: minimising observer effects in DNA interpretation
This is a letter signed by eleven international experts, including Professor Allan Jamieson, recommending a 'blind' approach to DNA interpretation which prevents the analyst being unduly biased by knowing the profile of the suspect before they interpret the DNA profile.