Mike,

What is the difference between these two scenarios?

1. TODAY:  A man is accused of rape and murder.  He is brought to trial by 
jury.  Semen is found in the body of the woman.  DNA is extracted from the 
accused and from the semen.  A DNA expert comes into court and testifies that 
the samples are a match.  The jury believes the DNA expert and convicts the 
accused.

2. 300 YEARS AGO:  A man is accused of rape and murder.  He is brought to trial 
by jury.  A priest comes into court and testifies that he cut open a cat and 
saw in the entrails that the man was guilty.  The jury believes the priest and 
convicts the accused.

And before you answer, do you really believe the members of each of these 
juries knows enough themselves about DNA or cat entrails to make a decision on 
anything else than just the testimony of the expert witness?

...Bill!

From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of 
mike brown
Sent: Monday, October 25, 2010 10:29 PM
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [Zen] Non-zen Question for Mike

  
Bill!,
 
Forensic evidence is a specialised area for criminal lawyers so I'll tread 
carefully on this subject. Firstly, each case turns on its own facts so you'd 
have to go through each situation (regarding dna) case by case. Secondly, I 
don't think it's correct to say that any ruling is automatically over-turned 
because of dna evidence. True, there have been situations where a person has 
been exonerated, but you're correct to say that this doesn't prove the person 
is innocent. But this is just as true as when there is insufficent evidence to 
convict someone, but this doesn't equate to their innocence either. 
 
My opinion is that new advances in science are just as applicable in the court 
room setting as they are anywhere else. If you were wrongly convicted of rape 
15 years ago primarily because a rapists mask was found in your possession, I'm 
thinking you'd be pretty happy when dna testing on the perspiration inside the 
mask didn't match your own. Even things like the saliva on the back of a stamp 
can go on to prove (beyond a reasonable doubt) who did or didn't send that 
stalking/threatening/murder letter. In my experience, most criminals are pretty 
dumb so dna evidence is much more likely to convict the guilty than release 
them and more likely to protect the innocent rather than convict them. Nothing 
is 100% failsafe tho.
 
Mike 
________________________________________
From: "billsm...@hhs1963.org" <billsm...@hhs1963.org>
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Mon, 25 October, 2010 13:15:08
Subject: [Zen] Non-zen Question for Mike

  
Mike,

In a previous post you indicated you had gone to law school.

Could you tell me why (or at least give me your opinion as to why) DNA
evidence seems to be treated as some kind of super-evidence in our judicial
system? I thought there were only two types of evidence: direct and
circumstantial. Why would DNA evidence be treated differently as some other
kind of direct evidence, such as eye-witness testimony or fingerprints?

Also, why are so many prisoners' convictions being overturned because of new
DNA evidence? For example, if someone was convicted of murder, and a hair
or skin or blood or semen sample taken from the victim shows DNA that is not
the same as the one convicted, why does that AUTOMATICALLY overturn the
verdict? The convicted could have still killed the victim and the DNA might
have come from someone else also involved.

It just seems like DNA is used like a trump card in our judicial system
instead of just another piece of evidence to consider.

Thanks.Bill! 

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