Law: A Trial of High-Tech Detectives

DNA testing may not be so fool proof as once thought

A technique called DNA fingerprinting has, since the mid-1980s, become an important tool for police and prosecutors. Matching a suspect's DNA, the genetic material found in most cells, with DNA found in blood or semen at the scene of a crime can provide seemingly indisputable evidence of guilt. But now DNA fingerprinting is itself on trial, and shadows of doubt are falling on detective work that once seemed virtually infallible. Says William Thompson, a professor of social ecology at the University of California at Irvine: "This technology has been steamrollered through the courts, and now it's beginning to get serious scrutiny."

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