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This article focuses on sequences of DNA base-pairs, which are becoming increasingly important in the field of law. These DNA sequences are used by forensic scientists to discover evidence such as blood stains, semen, saliva, and hair, and has become highly useful in the courtroom with regard to exonerating the innocent and convicting the guilty. Part I of the article examines how courts may (or may not) admit DNA evidence in court through four phases: uncritical acceptance; serious challenges to analytical methods and statistical interpretation of the results; renewed acceptance of DNA evidence; and acceptance of advance systems of DNA analysis such as PCR-based methods. Part II addresses issues regarding ethical, social, and constitutional issues that arise with DNA analysis, such as inferring race from DNA samples, and acquisition of DNA information; as well as the development of forensic DNA repositories and databases.


This article was originally published at 8 Minn. J.L. Sci. & Tech. 409.