Professor Paul Giannelli commented on the incomplete laboratory reports, “In any event, no attorney should have to search through the haystack for the exculpatory needle. A laboratory report should be comprehensive and include a section specifying the limitations of the technique used in the analysis. The report should also be comprehensible to laypersons.” (emphasis mine) Professor Giannelli noted that Dr. Brian Meehan also failed to meet the standards for reports laid out by the American Society of Crime Directors/Laboratory Accreditation, even though his laboratory relied upon this organization for accreditation.
When Brad Bannon was preparing to defend David Evans, he read John Butler's textbook on DNA profiling. His cross-examination of Dr. Brian Meehan was one of the pivotal moments of the case. For the newest edition of his three-volume textbook Dr. Butler asked Mr. Bannon to comment on aspects of how a defense attorney would challenge DNA evidence. Mr. Bannon replied in part, "Did the lab follow acceptable standards of DNA analysis? Did it follow its own protocols? Is the lab applying those standards and protocols consistently or selectively? For example, why do you call a peak below 150 RFU as a true allele for one purpose, or in one case, but not for another? If there are such internal inconsistencies, do they usually inure to the benefit of one side's theory of the case? If so, is that evidence of bias?"
Mr. Bannon's point about consistency of threshold values for peaks is similar to one found in the textbook An Introduction to Forensic DNA analysis, 2nd ed. (Rudin, N. and Inman, K., CRC Press 2002, p. 121) states, “It is important to have some predetermined limit to distinguish what is signal and what is noise.” Without a clear guideline, a scientist may make choices that benefit his or her preferred hypothesis, even subconsciously.
William Anderson “Duke: Why the DNA mattered.” William Anderson teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland. He was one of the first bloggers to call attention to the many problems in the Duke lacrosse case.