Policy ForumSCIENCE AND LAW

When Should Judges Admit or Compel Genetic Tests?

Science  14 Oct 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5746, pp. 241-242
DOI: 10.1126/science.1117972

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Summary

During the past two decades, the use of DNA tests has revolutionized court proceedings in criminal and paternity cases. On the horizon is a new challenge for judges--whether to admit or compel genetic tests to confirm or predict genetic diseases and conditions in many more judicial contexts, e.g., decisions regarding culpability, sentencing, liability, causation, and damages. This Policy Forum reports on an empirical study of how judges would analyze these issues. The authors discuss the challenges these types of cases will bring to the court-room and suggest a series of questions that judges should consider in evaluating the need for genetic information in legal cases.