The Champion

May 2003 , Page 24 

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Evaluating Forensic DNA Evidence, Part 2

By William C. Thompson; Simon Ford; Travis E. Doom; Michael L. Raymer; Dan E. Krane

Breaking open the black box: How to review the electronic data

Reviewing the electronic files produced by the ABI Prism 310 Genetic Analyzer™ (or similar equipment) has a number of additional benefits beyond revealing unreported low-level peaks. The software that controls these devices creates a complete record of all operations the device performs while typing samples in a particular case and records the results for each sample.

These records can reveal a variety of problems in testing that a forensic laboratory may fail to notice or choose not to report, such as failure of experimental controls, multiple testing of samples with inconsistent results, re-labeling of samples which can flag potential sample mix-ups and failure to follow proper procedures. We know of several cases in which review of electronic data has revealed that the laboratory failed to run all of the necessary control samples needed to verify the reliability of the test results, or that the laboratory ran the control

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