Education & Training

DNA for the Defense Technical Working Group

DNA for the Defense is a project whose goal is to provide training for defense counsel handling cases involving biological evidence on the applications and limitations of DNA evidence as stated in the President’s DNA Initiative. The President’s DNA Initiative provides funding, training, and assistance to ensure that forensic DNA reaches its full potential to solve crimes, protect the innocent, and identify missing persons.

NCSTL worked closely with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and an expert Advisory Group (TWG - see next paragraph) to develop training that provided defense attorneys with the general knowledge of the uses of DNA evidence in judicial proceedings as it pertains to discovery and ethics, proper closing arguments, rehabilitation, case assessment, etc. The training complements other forensic DNA evidence resources developed by NIJ, e.g., the “Officers of the Court” CD-ROM, which provides a foundational understanding of the science, technology, statistics, and other non-advocacy topics.

The project was managed and meetings were facilitated by Anjali Swienton, NCSTL Director of Outreach. Carol Henderson, NCSTL Director, was responsible for project oversight. DNA for the Defense Technical Working Group (TWG) had eight members: Retired Judge Ron Reinstein, Jack Ballantyne, Jules Epstein, Catherine J. Cothran, Vanessa Potkin, Christine Funk, Chris Plourd and Edward J. Ungvarsky. Cecelia Crouse contributed. The faculty for the training included: Anjali Swienton, Christine Funk, Christopher Plourd, Catherine Cochran, and Diana Botluk. A short biography can be accessed by clicking on the faculty member's name.

The training was conducted in Tampa, FL on March 14 and 15, 2011. Eighty seven defense attorneys attended. The PowerPoint presentations made at this training are included below: