Achieving Justice at Trial: DNA Expert Testimony

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90 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 11, 2023

Patti Powers
Patti Powers, JD
Attorney Advisor

Misty Marra, MS

Research Forensic Social Scientist
RTI International

Effectively presenting DNA expert testimony at trial requires intensive planning and collaboration with analysts. Prosecutors must work with their experts to understand the science of DNA, as well as its potential and limitations. Close collaboration enables prosecutors to develop strategies for explaining complex concepts to a jury, as well as to anticipate and prepare for challenges and issues that arise during litigation. 

This presentation will focus on strategies for presenting DNA expert testimony, beginning with the planning phase and continuing through trial. Presenters will highlight questions for qualifying the expert and establishing a foundation for the admission of testimony related to STR testing, familial DNA, and forensic genetic genealogy. They will also briefly demonstrate direct examination strategies to illustrate how potential challenges can be addressed in the case-in-chief.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Prepare effective expert testimony on direct and cross-examination.
  • Develop legally sufficient, persuasive questions for admission of testing results.
  • Prepare testimony of initial analyst and outsourced analyst, including changes in technology/interpretation.
  • Employ strategies to educate juries and explain the importance of forensic analysis and significance of findings in case context.


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