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Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court

When to Request Expert Assistance

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The typical request for expert assistance is made at the trial level in State court. The response of State appellate courts has been mixed when a trial judge has denied the request. Courts supporting the right to expert assistance have explained it as follows:

Given the weight that a jury could place on DNA tests and the statistics drawn from them, coupled with the unlikelihood that defense counsel will have the expertise to challenge that evidence, we hold that an indigent defendant against whom DNA evidence will be offered must have access to a DNA expert to assist in his defense. 26

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