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DNA - A Prosecutor’s Practice Notebook Inventory

Real vs. Fictional Criminal Cases

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The prosecutor must educate the jury to distinguish between real criminal cases and those presented for television entertainment. Rarely in entertainment programs are there degraded DNA, mixed samples, or laboratory errors, inadvertent report transcription errors, partial profiles, retesting, deviations from protocol, or issues as to the statistical analysis methodology. Unlike in real life, television DNA laboratories are able to correct any problems between commercial breaks and the implemented corrective actions are always accepted. Prepare jurors for the reality of the investigative process and the results.

Prosecutors should strongly consider presenting a "negative evidence witness" to explain that it is not uncommon for real crime scene investigators not to find DNA, fingerprints, or other forensic evidence at a crime scene.

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