The Double Helix and the Law of Evidence

49 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2010 Last revised: 17 Dec 2014

See all articles by David H. Kaye

David H. Kaye

PSU - Penn State Law (University Park); ASU - College of Law & School of Life Sciences

Date Written: June 26, 2009


This book chronicles the discoveries that led to modern DNA evidence and analyzes how courts in the United States came to accept this evidence in criminal cases. It shows how the adversary system exacerbated divisions among scientists, how lawyers and experts obfuscated some issues and clarified others, how probability and statistics were manipulated and misunderstood, and how the need to convince lay judges influenced the scientific research. It uses probability theory to clarify legal concepts of relevance and probative value as they apply to DNA and other forensic-science evidence, and it reflects on the lessons DNA evidence holds for forensic science and the legal system.

Keywords: DNA, evidence, probability, likelihood, forensic science

Suggested Citation

Kaye, David H., The Double Helix and the Law of Evidence (June 26, 2009). Penn State Legal Studies Research Paper No. 9-2010, Available at SSRN:

David H. Kaye (Contact Author)

PSU - Penn State Law (University Park)

Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States


ASU - College of Law & School of Life Sciences ( email )

111 E Taylor St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States


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