Re: DNA Forensics [was Re: CRYPTO NAZIS]

Michael S. Lorrey (
Sat, 02 Oct 1999 14:24:55 -0400 wrote:
> With very few exceptions, documentary or tangible evidence isn't
> "self-authenticating". Even photographs have to have a live witness to
> testify that the scene in the photograph accurately depicts some location or
> event germane to the case at issue. Derivative or analytical evidence, such
> as a DNA analysis, has to be "sponsored" by a live witness who testifies
> about how the evidence was obtained and/or created. Such evidence is subject
> to pretrial discovery (and analysis by opposing parties) and all live
> witnesses are subject to cross examination. Any statutes that attempt to
> circumvent these basic principles of due process have zero chance of
> surviving constitutional scrutiny.

Yes, evidence alone cannot convict. Testimony as to the circumstances that the evidence was collected must corroborated by a living person, under the principle of the right to confront one's accuser, to cross examine it. You cannot cross examine an inanimate object. An inanimate object cannot make an accusation. Every prosecution witness called to testify is in effect an accuser. Even non-eye witnesses are in principle accusers, because they are testifying as to how they collected, processed, and/or analysed evidence, and what, in their expert opinion (if they have one and are allowed to present it) conclusions can be drawn about the evidence. It is this testimony that is an accusation against the defendant.

Mike Lorrey