If requested, the witness may arrive in court with several visual aids to assist the jury. These may include a series of diagrams. The prosecutor should determine beforehand whether the court will accept 8” x 10” duplicates as evidence, thus allowing the forensic biologist to reuse the diagrams. The prosecutor should also determine whether the analyst will need additional materials to aid in the presentation to the jury. For example, the analyst may need an overhead projector or screen.
Introduction and Qualifications
1. Please state your name.
2. Where do you work, and what is your position?
3. Please give us a brief description of your job.
4. What is your educational background?
5. What training and experience have you had in forensic DNA analysis?
6. [Check with the analyst before asking this question] Have you published in technical or professional journals?
7. [Check with the analyst before asking this question] Have you ever testified in court and given opinions as an expert witness, based on your experience and training as a forensic biologist?
8. Approximately how many times?
Tender witness to the court as an expert in “forensic DNA analysis” or as a “forensic biologist.”
Background and Reliability
Note: The North Carolina State Crime Laboratory utilizes the short tandem repeat (“STR”) method of DNA testing, which makes use of the polymerase chain reaction (“PCR”). Modify these questions as needed if the witness is not from the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory. If the expert utilized the mitochondrial DNA (“mtDNA”) method, alternate proposed questions should be obtained from that expert.
1. What is DNA?
2. Why does the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory conduct DNA analysis?
3. Please explain the basic procedures that are used at the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory when conducting DNA testing?
Follow-Up Questions, if Needed
(or for Redirect Examination)
1. What is PCR?
2. What are STR’s?
3. Have the procedures you have described been widely accepted as valid scientific tests in the scientific community?
4. What other applications can DNA testing be used in?
5. What does a forensic DNA comparison involve?
6. Have the basic procedures described been widely accepted as valid scientific tests in the scientific community?
7. Where did the procedure used at the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory originate?
8. Does the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory use a population database to provide a statistical significance to a match?
9. Please describe how this database was derived and how it is used in casework.
10. Please mention the publication relied on for this approach.
Quality Assurance Questions, if Needed
(or for Redirect Examination)
Modify questions as needed if expert is not from North Carolina State Crime Laboratory, or did not use the testing methods described above
1. Does the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory DNA Unit have a quality assurance and quality control program in place?
2. Please describe to the jury what the Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM) is and what guidelines, if any, have been issued by this group concerning quality assurance and quality control issues.
3. Does the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory DNA Unit meet the quality assurance and quality control guidelines?
4. Please describe to the jury the major areas delineated in these guidelines: use of proper controls during the actual testing procedure, use of a validated procedure, training standards, documentation required, quality control of reagents, and critical supplies, guidelines for interpretation and writing of reports, proficiency testing of analysts, audits, and safety issues.
5. Does the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory meet the Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories, approved by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which are national standards mandated by the DNA Identification Act of 1994 and went into effect on September 1, 2011?
Application to Facts, and Presentation of Results
The evidence submitted to the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory DNA Unit is usually a set of small manila envelopes containing cuttings from larger pieces of evidence. These cuttings have been prepared by North Carolina State Crime Laboratory forensic biologists who identify body fluids. The envelopes bearing the identifying markings from analysts and leftover cuttings are returned to the investigating officer in a manila envelope.
[Have the evidence/samples properly marked for identification, and present them to the analyst. Ask the analyst to identify the evidence. Remember to make a motion to introduce the evidence at the appropriate time.]
1. Were these samples in this case tested using the procedures you previously described?
2. What were your results? (Please explain.)
3. What statistical weight can you give to the match obtained in this case?