EXONERATING THE INNOCENT: THE IMPACT OF DNA EVIDENCE
Paul C. Giannelli, J.D. - Weatherhead Professor of Law, Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Friday April 10, 2009
Crawford Hall - Room 9
Case Western Reserve University
Television dramas give the impression that forensic science is a powerful tool for catching the guilty and exonerating the innocent. Yet, as a new National Academy of Sciences report shows, “there are great disparities among existing forensic science operations” across governments. The “depth, reliability, and overall quality of information” used in trials varies greatly, so that how justice is done, or not, depends on where the crime is committed or trial held.
Within this discouraging context, nuclear DNA analysis is the only method that has been “rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently and, with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.” Yet the capacity to analyze DNA evidence varies greatly among jurisdictions, as does the ability to obtain it in specific cases.
To what extent, then, does the new science of DNA evidence offer a solution to the continuing challenge of determining innocence and guilt? Professor Giannelli, who co-chairs the American Bar Association’s Ad Hoc Innocence Committee to Ensure the Integrity of the Criminal Process, is simply one of the best people in the country with whom to discuss that crucial question.
As usual, we will gather in Room 9 of the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence, on the lower level of Crawford Hall, for free cookies, beverages, and brown bag lunch.
About Our Guest
Recognized by the New York Times as an "expert on scientific evidence," Paul Giannelli has lectured throughout the country and his work has been cited in hundreds of court opinions and legal articles, including decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. He is coauthor of nine books: Scientific Evidence (3d edition, 1999), Evidence: Cases and Materials (6th ed. 2002), Courtroom Criminal Evidence (4th ed., 2006), Ohio Criminal Justice (2004), Understanding Evidence (2d ed. 2006), Ohio Juvenile Law (2004), Ohio Rules of Evidence Handbook (2005), Baldwin's Ohio Practice: Criminal Law (2d ed. 2003), and Baldwin's Ohio Practice: Evidence (2d ed. 2001). Mr. Giannelli serves as co-chair, ABA Ad Hoc Innocence Committee to Ensure the Integrity of the Criminal Process and as Reporter, ABA Criminal Justice Standards Task Force on DNA Evidence.
Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:
April 17: CWRU Students Report on the Election in El Salvador.
April 24: The Future of the Newspaper Industry. Lauren Rich Fine, Research Director for Content Next and formerly the lead analyst for publishing, information, advertising and online industries for Merrill Lynch.
The Friday Lunch discussions are held on the lower (ground) level of
Crawford Hall. Visitors with mobility issues may find it easiest to take advantage of special arrangements we have made. On most Fridays, a few parking spaces in the V.I.P. lot in between Crawford Hall and Amasa Stone Chapel are held for participants in the lunch discussion.
Visitors then can avoid walking up the hill to the first floor of Crawford by entering the building on the ground level, through the garage area under the building. The further door on the left in that garage will be left unlocked during the period before the Friday lunch. On occasion, parking will be unavailable because of other university events.
For more information about these and other Center for Policy Studies programs, please see http://policy.case.edu.