Tuesday, April 11, 2006


No DNA evidence was found on the stripper that alleged that the Duke Lacrosse team beat and raped her. 46 of 47 players submitted to a DNA sample (the one black player did not have to give a sample because the victim said her attackers were white), and now they expect the investigation to be over soon.

Here is my question. Do we trust DNA evidence too much? I know that technically you can still proceed with a trial without a DNA match, but it seems like a lot of times it is the main factor. The way science is always moving, who is to say that in five years we won't have some breakthrough that shows that our methods for DNA testing is all wrong, that we have put away innocent people or let guilty people go free because we thought the world was flat. If anyone knows anything about why we should trust our DNA so much let me know, I will admit that I don't know that much about science and I have a problem with trusting it unconditionally.


At 4/11/2006 02:54:00 PM,

First, it is the defendants' lawyers who expect the investigation to end soon. The prosecutor still believes a crime occurred and is proceeding.

Second, as I read the story, it seems that there was no foreign DNA at the scene at all. Had there been DNA evidence (a euphemism for semen) and it did not match that of the defendants, then I would have no hesitation in letting them go. As long as protocols are followed in evidence gathering and testing, I have full confidence in the tests. The absence of DNA evidence, however, weakens the case but does not destroy it. There are ways to avoid leaving DNA evidence at a crime scene (although gang rapes are not usually that sophisticated).

As for "trusting science," you don't have to in this case. The reported results are just saying that science doesn't know what happened or who did it. 

Posted by Last Lemming

At 4/11/2006 04:14:00 PM,

Last Lemming-

I think Chris is referring to the "CSI Effect" - that is, even though science is really just saying "we dont know who did it, because there is no confirming DNA evidence to say who did it", jurors interpret the lack of affirmative DNA evidence as PROOF that the Defendant is innocent. In other words, it is harder than people think to get good DNA evidence that CONFIRMS someone committed a crime, but people EXPECT that VERY conclusive evidence (due to pop culture about DNA), and when the evidence isnt there, they assume that means no crime has been committed.

At 5/07/2006 11:59:00 AM,

CSI effect or not, the lack of any implicating evidence should ALWAYS exonerate a criminal defendant. If you don't have DNA evidence, then the prosecution has a harder job, but it's still their burden.




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