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Online DNA Training Targets Lawyers, Judges

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 256 Dated: 2007 Pages: 16-18
Date Published
January 2007
3 pages
Publication Series
This article describes an online training program, Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court, which was developed by the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) for the purpose of instructing attorneys and judges in matters related to forensic DNA analysis.
The training addresses the biology of DNA and how DNA is used to solve crimes. The workings of a forensic laboratory are explained, as well as the features of a DNA laboratory report. Statistics and population genetics are discussed as the basis for understanding the significance of a DNA profile as a tool for identifying and excluding suspects. DNA analysis is also explained, including mitochondrial and short tandem repeat (STR) analysis. Other issues addressed in the 15-module course are the collection of DNA samples from evidence and suspects; victim issues, such as privacy considerations and testing procedures; pretrial evidentiary issues; trial presentation; the use of DNA in postconviction cases; and emerging trends in DNA analysis. The training course uses a multimedia approach that includes text, images, animations, audio, and video. Some of the Nation's top experts in criminal law, forensic science, and internet-based learning helped develop the course. Although it is designed primarily for prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges, it also has relevance for victim advocates, investigators, law students, and other criminal justice professionals who want to be better informed about DNA analysis and its uses in the criminal justice system.
Date Published: January 1, 2007