DNA Testing: 21st Century Justice

Forensic DNA testing technologies have presented the criminal justice system with powerful and unique tools for the solution of crime. Small, often invisible, biological material can successfully be obtained from evidence items previously thought to be useless in criminal investigations. The development and use of polymerase chain reaction-based (“PCR”) techniques revolutionized the ability to exclude or include known individuals as the donors of the smallest evidentiary samples. The creation of local, state and national databases of DNA profiles of previously-convicted offenders has similarly resulted in the solution of thousands of suspectless cases. Comparison of DNA profiles obtained from biological evidence in such cases with statutorily-authorized databanks has permitted the discovery of the identity of attackers in cases otherwise not capable of resolution. Of greater importance is the now-common use of DNA typing technologies to examine older cases in which inmates have frequently served lengthy terms in prisons or penitentiaries. More than 200 inmates in the United States have been exonerated by modern DNA analysis of samples seized prior to the availability of DNA testing. 

Come hear George “Woody” Clarke talk about “DNA Testing: 21st Century Justice” in the UCSD Biomedical Library Events Room on May 1, 2008 from 12:00-1:00 p.m.  Mr. Clarke will be available after the talk to sell and sign his new book, JUSTICE AND SCIENCE: TRIALS AND TRIUMPHS OF DNA EVIDENCE, recently published by Rutgers University Press, for the special price of $20. 

Mr. Clarke is currently a Judge of the Superior Court for the County of San Diego. He served as a Deputy District Attorney for the County of San Diego from 1982-2003. During that time he tried numerous serious felony offenses, including capital crimes. Since 1989 he has specialized in the use and introduction in court of scientific evidence, particularly forensic DNA testing results. As a result of his expertise, he was loaned to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and presented DNA evidence to the jury in the 1995 prosecution of Orenthal James (“O.J.”) Simpson. Mr. Clarke was appointed in 1998 by the U.S. Department of Justice to the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence, and in 2002 to the U.S. Attorney General’s Initiative on DNA Laboratory Backlogs. He has published and lectured internationally in the area of forensic DNA evidence to organizations including the U.S. Department of Justice, John F. Kennedy School of Government, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, National College of District Attorneys, Harvard Law School and the armed services. He was honored in 2003 with “Prosecutor of the Year” awards by both the California District Attorneys Association and the San Diego County Deputy District Attorneys Association. He was recognized in 2000 by the San Diego County Bar Association as its “Public Lawyer of the Year,” by the San Diego County Deputy District Attorneys Association with its “Charles E. Nickel Award for Professional Excellence,” and by San Diego Magazine as one of “50 San Diegans to Watch in 2001.” 

This talk is part of the Biomedical Library lunchtime lecture series, and complements the current display in the library breezeway, “Forensic Science: Where Science Meets Law.”  Space is limited so please RSVP to Vicky Anderson at vkanderson@ucsd.edu as soon as possible to reserve a seat.  Feel free to bring a discreet lunch; cookies and water will be provided.

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