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DNA - A Prosecutor’s Practice Notebook Inventory

Educate Jurors

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Photo of a DNA Analyst educating a jury in a courtroom
National Institute of Justice (NIJ) (see reuse policy).

A prosecutor can be assisted in educating the jury by the state's DNA analyst. Jury education regarding DNA should be discussed with the state's analyst prior to trial to insure that the prosecutor and analyst do not inadvertently present contradictory information. 

Prosecutors should question jurors regarding their expectation of DNA evidence being part of a case and inform them that while biological evidence may be present, DNA typing is sometimes unnecessary or non-probative. For example, in violent crimes, it is not uncommon to find a victim's blood on their own clothing; therefore, DNA testing of this evidence would be non-probative. Prosecutors should educate jurors that sometimes it is unnecessary to perform scientific typing and that the decision not to perform these tests on certain evidence is not an oversight on the part of the prosecution.

Do not presume that juries will understand why these tests were not ordered; take time to explain this to the jury. Additionally, jury expectations or non-expectations can provide valuable information regarding analysis of victim credibility and evaluation of the investigation itself.

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