DNA testing lab conditions are one of the most critical factors in successfully using this revolutionary new technique in a legal situation. Although DNA testing has already gained a lot of good successes, there have been too many cases where doubt exists because of the possible failure of the DNA testing process. In criminal cases, the opposition will always be trying to suggest that the obtained results are not genuine, so it is imperative that the testing procedure is followed to the letter, and also that direct evidence of this is retained to show to the court.
There have been criminal cases where the testing procedure has totally invalidated the entire DNA results. In one famous case, swabs used to extract DNA samples from suspects already had existing DNA on them, from the factory in which they were produced. In another famous case in Great Britain, the DNA of a man hanged for murder clearly shows up on the evidence exhibits, but these exhibits were stored for forty years in conditions where they were in contact with the man’s known possessions. There are still many who doubt the DNA evidence, and who believe that this is a case of injustice.
DNA testing evidence is also routinely used in situations where there is far less at stake than at a capital murder trial, but which can still have a profound effect on someone’s life. Paternity case lawyers are now routinely using DNA to try to determine who is the real father of a child, and in this case the evidence should be far easier to collect. Both the alleged father and the child can be tested at the same time, and it is easy to record the test and make sure that it is properly carried out. Improper procedures in the DNA testing laboratory are really the only way such a test can go wrong.
In a case such as this, it is certain that the legal opposition will try to argue that there was something wrong with the test, and that it was not carried out properly. Observing correct practice, and recording the test, are not only important in obtaining the right result, they are also important in proving to the court that this has been done.
Wherever doubt can be thrown over the DNA testing lab procedure, it gives the court opposition a weapon which they will use to their advantage. Although there are still many people who erroneously give DNA almost infallible powers, most lawyers, judges and jurors are now aware that errors do occur and that apparent results can be totally false. Improving the standards of laboratory work is one of the keys to keeping DNA evidence firmly in the mainstream, and in ensuring the future of the practice. We need to be sure of exactly what happens in a DNA testing lab.