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Something Doesn’t Add Up: Solving DNA Forensic Science Statistical Fallacies in Trial Testimony

Posted by on Monday, March 6, 2023 in Notes, Volume 25, Volume 25, Issue 1.

Kendall Brooke Kilberger | 25 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 181 (2023)

While the limitations of traditional forensic sciences are generally recognized, the presentation of DNA forensic science statistical testimony has widely evaded criticism. This lack of oversight has allowed four DNA forensic science statistical fallacies to plague the legal system: providing statistics without empirical support, the individualization fallacy, the prosecutor’s fallacy, and the defense attorney’s fallacy. These fallacies pose a significant risk to the preservation of justice, as erroneous DNA forensic science statistical testimony plays a critical role in wrongfully convicting innocent defendants.

This Note suggests administering standard jury instructions every time DNA forensic science statistical testimony is presented during trial. This solution evades common hurdles scholars have faced while trying to increase the efficacy of the presentation of forensic sciences, such as high information costs, political support, and sufficient capital. Overall, the standard jury instructions presented provide a hopeful outlook on decreasing the prevalence of wrongful convictions caused by the presentation of DNA forensic science statistical fallacies.

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