DNA Evidence: Separating Fact from Fiction
Just as attorneys have the opportunity to delve into many different topics as they prepare for trial, our students are exposed to a variety of fascinating subjects as they engage with our competition case. Last year, our students were introduced to cutting-edge research on the causes, symptoms, and effects of sport-related concussions‚ much of it conducted at the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center in Chapel Hill. The topic was a timely one, especially given the ongoing lawsuit against the NCAA and the recent NFL settlement.
This year our students learn about fingerprint and DNA analysis in the affidavit of Forensic Specialist Kris Vinson. Kris Vinson has an impressive C.V., including co-authoring a scholarly paper with two famous fictional NCIS agents, Abby Sciuto and Dr. Donald Mallard! Yet while the television actors portraying NCIS agents often go beyond the bounds of believability, we have tried to confine our case descriptions of CSI investigations to the "real world." And again we have a local connection: Dr. Maher "Max" Noureddine of ForensiGen, one of the expert presenters at the April 4, 2013 NCAJ CLE "Examination of Forensic Experts in Criminal Cases." Dr. Noureddine assisted in writing the explanation of DNA analysis in Vinson's affidavit.
DNA and forensic analysis is an intriguing field to many of our students. To assist those who may want to learn more about DNA analysis on their own, Dr. Noureddine co-authored an introductory article that we have posted on our website. In addition, we posted links to several websites on forensics. Dr. Nourreddine‚Äôs article with diagrams and the other links can be accessed at http://ncmocktrial.org/resources/other-resources.
Even though students are limited to the actual case materials in their trial presentations, we are glad for the opportunity to help interested students explore many of the areas that trial attorneys address in their own practices. We very much appreciate the investment of experts such as Dr. Noureddine who help to bring our cases alive for the students.