Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court

NOTE TO USERS: This President's DNA Initiative Officers of the Court Case Study, concerning cold-case DNA, was completed and published in 2008, in cooperation with the National Institute of Justice. Opinions or points of view expressed in this report represent a consensus of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The original format of this Case Study used the Adobe Flash Player, which is no longer supported. We are making this modified, browser-ready version of the Case Study material and videos available for historical reference.

Welcome to the Forensic DNA Case Study.

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DNA evidence has had a profound impact on the way that crimes are investigated and solved. In criminal proceedings, it can play a powerful role to both prosecute the guilty and exonerate the innocent. Defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges need to be aware of the complexity of issues that can arise when DNA evidence is presented in court.

This case study provides valuable information about the science of DNA and DNA testing. It presents critical information needed to prosecute, defend, or preside over criminal trials involving DNA evidence.

The case study draws upon a 1984 rape and murder that – although cold for many years – was reopened and investigated resulting in a criminal trial based largely upon DNA evidence. The case study, although fictional, is based on factual events.

The case study should take approximately two to three hours to complete.