FBI's DNA database needs adjustment

It's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff here, but in a nutshell, the FBI says that the odds of making a match to a criminal’s DNA from their database were off and required adjustment.

I'm not sure which is more despicable: the FBI, which refused to allow review of its database for years, or the trial lawyers filing motions for retrial, but I'm going with the lawyers.

In one corner we have a spokesperson for the Arizona DPS crime lab who says the likelihood for making a match may go from one in 110 quadrillion to one in quadrillion.

In the other corner is Andrea Roth, professor of law at UC Berkeley: "Looking backwards, you may have thousands of cases where, let's say, it was reported as one in every 400,000; maybe it's really more like one in every 4,000," she said.  "How do you assess the harmfulness of that error?"

Interestingly, both experts say the numbers may be off by two orders of magnitude, but it's also clear that both are simply pulling their exemplary numbers out of...thin air.

To address Professor Roth, imagine recasting your statement to a jury this way:  There is one chance in 4,000 that someone other than the accused left the DNA found at the crime scene.  Would I vote to convict?  Of course.  Wouldn’t any rational person?  If my financial advisor said there was one chance in 4,000 that I would lose money on an investment, would I do it?  Who wouldn’t?

All this reminds me of an observation by a man I worked with, an engineer who decided to enroll in law school.  He quit after a year in disgust, saying he would rather make things.  He concluded that the practice of law is not about justice, but about what you can get away with.

In other words, the job of criminal defense attorneys is not to show that their client is innocent, but to sow FUD in the minds of jurors: Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt.

While this is a legitimate news story, its prominence on A1 of the print edition of the Arizona Republic, above the fold and dominating the page, gives the impression that it's being pushed by trial lawyers eager to file motions for retrial, part of their FUD campaign.  Another newspaper driving the agenda of the trial lawyers: the MSM cannot be sentenced to extinction soon enough.

Henry Percy is the nom de guerre of a writer in Arizona.  He may be reached at saler.50d[at]gmail.com.

It's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff here, but in a nutshell, the FBI says that the odds of making a match to a criminal’s DNA from their database were off and required adjustment.

I'm not sure which is more despicable: the FBI, which refused to allow review of its database for years, or the trial lawyers filing motions for retrial, but I'm going with the lawyers.

In one corner we have a spokesperson for the Arizona DPS crime lab who says the likelihood for making a match may go from one in 110 quadrillion to one in quadrillion.

In the other corner is Andrea Roth, professor of law at UC Berkeley: "Looking backwards, you may have thousands of cases where, let's say, it was reported as one in every 400,000; maybe it's really more like one in every 4,000," she said.  "How do you assess the harmfulness of that error?"

Interestingly, both experts say the numbers may be off by two orders of magnitude, but it's also clear that both are simply pulling their exemplary numbers out of...thin air.

To address Professor Roth, imagine recasting your statement to a jury this way:  There is one chance in 4,000 that someone other than the accused left the DNA found at the crime scene.  Would I vote to convict?  Of course.  Wouldn’t any rational person?  If my financial advisor said there was one chance in 4,000 that I would lose money on an investment, would I do it?  Who wouldn’t?

All this reminds me of an observation by a man I worked with, an engineer who decided to enroll in law school.  He quit after a year in disgust, saying he would rather make things.  He concluded that the practice of law is not about justice, but about what you can get away with.

In other words, the job of criminal defense attorneys is not to show that their client is innocent, but to sow FUD in the minds of jurors: Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt.

While this is a legitimate news story, its prominence on A1 of the print edition of the Arizona Republic, above the fold and dominating the page, gives the impression that it's being pushed by trial lawyers eager to file motions for retrial, part of their FUD campaign.  Another newspaper driving the agenda of the trial lawyers: the MSM cannot be sentenced to extinction soon enough.

Henry Percy is the nom de guerre of a writer in Arizona.  He may be reached at saler.50d[at]gmail.com.