DNA Testing Can Be Used In Resolving Criminal Cases (Part 5)

Deborah Warrie

Deborah Warrie

DNA testing  was conducted, and revealed that Williams was innocent. On March 21, 2019, the prosecution joined Williams’s attorneys in requesting that his convictions be vacated. The motion was granted, the charges were dismissed and Williams was released—36 years after his arrest. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III, told Williams in court: “As a representative of the state, I apologize.”  In March 2020, Williams filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking damages for his wrongful conviction.

DNA testing exonerated nine people in Louisiana in the last eight years.  In four of those nine cases, DNA didn’t just prove that wrongfully convicted people were innocent – it helped identify and apprehend the true perpetrators of the crimes.  In nearly 40% of the 206 wrongful convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide, DNA also helped identify the true perpetrators of crimes. It has been shown that DNA can exonerate the innocent while also helping identify and apprehend the guilty, in the interest of justice, public safety, and confidence in the criminal justice system.


Conclusively, although a Court of Law can be approached in order to either force compliance from a person who refuses to provide a DNA sample or even to exhume the body of the deceased person to enable DNA testing to be done, DNA sample obtained from siblings, Grandparents and Uncle/Aunts can also provide a report to prove paternity, and the results from such testing will be admissible in a court of law. See ROYORK (NIG) LTD v. A.G & CJ, SOKOTO STATE & ANOR (2017) LPELR-42506(CA)

“The position of the law is that evidence is admissible when it is relevant to the issues and when it is also competent. The usual catchphrase is: “that admissibility of evidence is governed by relevance”.  What makes a piece of evidence relevant is when sufficient facts relating to the piece of evidence or documentary evidence are copiously pleaded. This goes to show its relevance to the case of the party in question and once the piece of evidence is competent, that is to say, that there is no legal bar to its admissibility, then the document is admissible. ” Per FREDERICK OZIAKPONO OHO, JCA (Pp 23 – 24 Paras A-B)

However, it is advised that you approach the office of a legal representative, should you have the need to establish paternity in any case, to ensure that the correct process is followed. This is because, under the Human Tissue Act 2004, DNA is considered a ‘designated material’ and as such, DNA can only be collected from the deceased by an authorized person in a Human Tissue Authority (HTA) licensed premises.

Also, there are human rights issues in all of these cases. Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 protects our privacy and our family life. Does this extend to privacy over parentage?  There is not much Strasbourg case law/any current case on this.

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Professor Jideofor Adibe


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