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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1478922
 
 

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'False But Highly Persuasive:' How Wrong Were the Probability Estimates in McDaniel v. Brown?


David H. Kaye


The Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law

September 26, 2009

Michigan Law Review First Impressions, Vol. 108, No. 1, 2009
Penn State Legal Studies Research Paper No. 20-2009

Abstract:     
In McDaniel v. Brown, the Supreme Court will review the use of DNA evidence in a 1994 trial for sexual assault and attempted murder. The Court granted certiorari to consider two procedural issues - the standard of federal postconviction review of a state jury verdict for sufficiency of the evidence, and the district court's decision to allow the prisoner to supplement the record of trials, appeals, and state postconviction proceedings with a geneticist's letter twelve years after the trial.

This essay clarifies the nature and extent of the errors in the presentation of the DNA evidence in Brown. It questions (1) whether the transposition of a conditional probability (of the DNA match given the defense hypothesis that a man unrelated to the defendant was the source of the semen on the victim's panties) amounted to a deprivation of due process and (2) whether the position of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the defendant, and various amici curiae that the probability of a match to any of four brothers should have presented rather than the probability of a match to a single brother.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 8

Keywords: evidence, probability, Bayes, DNA, random match, siblings

JEL Classification: C11

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Date posted: September 27, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Kaye, David H., 'False But Highly Persuasive:' How Wrong Were the Probability Estimates in McDaniel v. Brown? (September 26, 2009). Michigan Law Review First Impressions, Vol. 108, No. 1, 2009; Penn State Legal Studies Research Paper No. 20-2009 . Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1478922

Contact Information

David H. Kaye (Contact Author)
The Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law ( email )
Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States
814 865-8974 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://law.psu.edu/faculty/resident_faculty/kaye
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