Tag: DNA

Sixth Grade Student Allegedly Removed From School Due To DNA Profile

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

DNA_orbit_animated_static_thumbA California school district faces a lawsuit which has been appealed to the Ninth Circuit were parents of a six-year-old boy having genetic markers for the condition of cystic fibrosis brought suit against the Palo Alto Unified School District claiming the district violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and First Amendment privacy rights of the child.

The case revolves around the issue of genetic discrimination. According to the lawsuit, parents enrolled six-year-old Coleman Chadman at Jordan Middle School. The parents disclosed the genetic marker for Coleman on an interview form requesting information as to the child’s medical conditions. As a result of that disclosure, and other events, Coleman was prohibited from attending school due to DNA markers for cystic fibrosis and not for any condition presently manifesting itself as a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis.

The case demonstrates a worrying problem leading to discrimination based on genetic factors where the expression of certain genes is not a guarantee of having such medical problems yet the discrimination is nevertheless applied.
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“We have ways of making you talk…..” Confessions and false confessions.

Submitted by Charlton Stanley (aka Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger

“It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”
– Sir William Blackstone KC SL, Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765)

Sir William Blackstone
Sir William Blackstone

One of the oldest cliché movie scenes of the past half century is the Gestapo agent, wearing a monocle, slapping a riding crop against his gloved hand, saying with a leer, “Ve haf vays of making you talk…..” Unfortunately, that caricature figure has come to life in in recent years, taking the form of rogue psychologists, unscrupulous investigators, and even the Vice President of the United States.

My motivation to write this is because of a phone call a few weeks ago. An old case I worked on back in the 1980s resurfaced with that phone call out of the blue. Of all the cases I ever worked on, the one I got the call about has been the most bothersome. It involved a murder, a coerced confession, a judge with a troubled psychological burden of his own, and a jury that would not believe confessions could be coerced. Plus, a district attorney with a reputation of wanting to win at any cost. Since this case has resurfaced and the new investigation is still under way, I can’t say too much about it now. As details become public, I will be writing more.

Let me start off by saying that most confessions may be legitimate, but since we have no way of knowing how many are false, no solid statistics are possible. The simple fact that so far, over three hundred people have been released from prison due to wrongful convictions is enough to give one pause. It is reasonable, based on the number exonerated so far, to assume there are a lot of them. We just don’t know which ones. Not all those overturned convictions were due to false confessions, but about a fourth of them were. If a defendant does make a false confession, and there is solid DNA evidence showing the defendant to be innocent, juries convict over 80% of the time, despite the physical evidence. One thing I find curious is the fact some prosecutors continue to prosecute cases even after the physical evidence proves they have the wrong person.

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