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21-Feb-2019

DNA transfer for lawyers
Continuing Legal Education


Pittsburgh, PA

DNA has tremendous power in the courtroom. Typically introduced by a prosecutor for establishing probative connections between crime scene and defendant, the defender's task is to neutralize that probative power. DNA's message is that someone has left their biological material in an unexpected place, where it doesn't belong; the rejoinder is that the DNA evidence is entirely expected to be there.

How is this done? An increasingly common approach is through the defense argument of "DNA transfer." Here are some examples.


  1. Why is the defendant's DNA on the victim' s underwear? Because it transferred there in the laundry. He's innocent.
  2. How did the defendant's DNA get on the weapon? Because it was wrapped in a towel taken from his home. He's innocent.
  3. When was the defendant's DNA left in the deceased's pants pocket? The prosecutor says it was when he rifled through clothing to steal the victim's wallet. The defense replies the two men knew each other - it's only innocent DNA transfer that happened at an earlier time, before the crime occurred.

DNA transfer gives defenders hope - and prosecutors anguish. How does one respond to a vague assertion that can introduce reasonable doubt about solid DNA evidence? The rebuttal comes from established science that can show why the proffered DNA transfer is not likely, given the facts of the case and DNA science.

This CLE course will teach lawyers about DNA evidence, transfer alternatives, and arguments that can be made by both sides. Drawing from actual criminal case fact patterns, students will learn how to effectively attack and defend DNA evidence using recent methods and strategies from DNA science and law.

Additional details, including registration information, can be found here.


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