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This article traces some of the controversies surrounding DNA evidence and argues that although many have been laid to rest by scientific developments confirmed in the National Research Council's second DNA report, there remain several problems which are likely to lead to continued questioning of standard ways prosecutors present DNA evidence. Although much about the report is to be commended, it falls short in several ways, the most important of which is in its support for presenting random match probabilities independent of plausible error rates. The article argues that although one can sympathize with the NRC committee's decision as an effort to say no more than what science reliably tells us, it is not a good forensic science recommendation because following it means that the probative value of DNA evidence is likely to be substantially overstated. Fortunately, it will be the rare case where this matters.


©1997. Published in Jurimetrics Journal, vol 37, no. 4, 1997, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.