In what situations can mitochondrial DNA testing have an impact on habeas corpus petitions? You can find out more about mitochondrial DNA testing and habeas corpus petitions here.
At trial in 1988, Dr. Lee testified that DNA testing might someday enable scientists to determine the origin of a particular hair. (TT. 3/12- 15; 10/5-13, 10/43-47, 10/50-71; 11/7-13) That day came in 1996 when the Federal Bureau of Investigation became the first lab to conduct mitochondrial DNA testing, which is the only type of DNA testing that can discern a DNA pattern from hair shafts that contain no roots. (In addition, nuclear DNA testing can only get performed on hairs that have roots attached.)
Mitochondrial DNA Analysis
Mitochondrial DNA analysis is widely accepted in the scientific community as reliable. Also, it has been subjected to peer review and countless scientific articles have been published about it. In addition, the FBI laboratory has validated the process and determined its rate of error. But, the only drawbacks to mitochondrial DNA testing for purposes of exclusion are that it is expensive, time-consuming, and requires a highly stable environment and special level of expertise to per-form. See A Comeback for Hair Evidence, 84 A.B.A.J. 66 (May, 1998).
Mitochondrial DNA Testing
Also, mitochondrial DNA testing is less discriminating than nuclear DNA testing because, since all individuals in a maternal lineage share the same mitochondrial DNA sequence, it is not a unique identifier. However, the statistical frequency of any given DNA sequence is only significant when there is a match. So, the discriminatory power of any DNA test, nuclear or mitochondrial, is irrelevant in the context of an exclusion. See State v. Hammond, 221 Conn. at 280 n. 8.
Cases with DNA Evidence
In addition, many cases have been tried in the United States using mitochondrial DNA evidence and the method has been found reliable and admissible in several jurisdictions. Also See State v. Council, 515 S.E.2d 508 (S.C. 1999); In addition, see State v. Underwood, 518 S.E.2d 231 (Ct.App.N.C. 1999); Also see State v. Scott, 33 S.W.2d 759 (Tenn. 2000); Then see People v. Klinger, 713 N.Y.S. 2d 823 (N.Y. 2000). Importantly, Connecticut recently joined those jurisdictions when our Supreme Court in State v. Pappas , 256 Conn. 854 (2001), approved the admissibility of mitochondrial DNA evidence. Id. at 866-90. The Connecticut Supreme Court found that the procedures used to extract and chart the chemical bases of mtDNA are scientifically valid and generally accepted in the scientific community. Id.
Accordingly, the habeas court can have no reservations about permitting mtDNA testing on the hairs. The testing would be performed by Mitotyping Technologies, LLC, an accredited lab which is devoted exclusively to the forensic applications of mtDNA analysis and which has often been requested by the Connecticut State Police Forensic Science Lab to perform mtDNA testing on prosecution evidence.
If you are interested in a Connecticut habeas corpus petition, you can contact an attorney. An attorney can answer your questions, protect your rights, and determine the best way to proceed given your situation.