The National Institute of Justice recently released DNA for the Defense Bar, a nearly two-hundred-page resource document for defense attorneys handling cases involving DNA evidence. Associate Professor Jules Epstein
served as part of the eight-member technical working group that put the document together.
“I was one of eight members, along with three defense lawyers with exceptional knowledge of science, two DNA scientists – one of international repute, one a terrific lab analyst from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office – a retired judge, and a staff member of the Innocence Project,” says Epstein of the group that that worked on the project.
“The writing process was collaborative,” he says, noting that all eight team members would travel for two to three day meetings and then leave with individual assignments to keep writing and editing. Future meetings then allowed the group to “edit each other’s contributions.”
“The product is the first and only truly defense-attorney-focused resource of this size for handling cases where there is DNA evidence,” says Epstein proudly, adding that it “covers science, crime scene investigation and evidence collection, statistics and probabilities, and all legal and trial advocacy issues that may arise in DNA cases.”
Observing that most law school graduates do not have a background in scientific disciplines, he calls the report a potentially critical resource.
“Although this project was under the auspices of the NIJ, which is part of the US Department of Justice, there was true independence to present a defense perspective,” he says, observing that the NIJ also funded DNA source materials for prosecutors and an online resource for “officers of the court” to which he was also a contributor.
The document is available both online and as a hard copy. For further information, visit the National Institute of Justice’s website