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Release state DNA profiles

July 27, 2008

Re "FBI resists scrutiny of 'matches,' " July 20

I have unsuccessfully litigated the rights of defendants to have access to the DNA profiles in the state database. Time and time again, the deputy attorney general argued that California would be thrown out of the cold-hit program and that my request would shut down the lab for months.

I was extremely disheartened to find out that not only were these representations false but that the FBI was behind this attempt to present false information and to manipulate judges. I cannot help but ask, what are they hiding?

I am hopeful that Jerry Brown will do the right thing and immediately release the California database profiles to academics so that the appropriate statistical research may be conducted, and we can all find out if the statistics that the government has been using to send people to prison are scientifically appropriate and accurate.

Jennifer Friedman

Los Angeles

The writer is a Los Angeles County public defender.

The FBI is correct -- DNA database searches, with their seemingly surprisingly large number of matches, do not invalidate its claims. But rather than block these searches through bullying, the FBI should get a court ruling that large numbers of matches in such searches do not invalidate the methods used and therefore cannot be introduced as evidence to cast doubt on the reliability of DNA matches in crime investigations.

If we are going to convict people of crimes on the basis of DNA evidence, there is no excuse for blocking research into its accuracy. If juries discover the FBI is preventing research into the accuracy of DNA evidence, they almost certainly will conclude that the accuracy is not what the FBI claims, and they will discount or ignore the evidence.

David Fink

Los Angeles

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