[ExI] interesting legal development

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Tue Oct 31 16:37:35 UTC 2023

On Tue, Oct 31, 2023 at 8:38 AM spike jones via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> In a currently ongoing legal case, a mass murderer left behind a sheath
> with his DNA on it.  The constables used PCR and figured out who it was
> whodunnit.  But… since it is legally untested…

By "legally untested" do you mean its admissibility has yet to be tested in
court?  The court would surely agree that the PCR test itself has certainly
been performed.

> they didn’t use that evidence to catch the perp.  They figured out
> whodunnit, then knew exactly how to get the evidence they needed.  They
> followed him, caught him, based the arrest warrant on other information but
> did not mention the DNA match.
> The prosecution doesn’t need the DNA evidence to convict the guy, they
> have plenty of other evidence, which they found because they had identified
> him using DNA, which in itself in inadmissible evidence.
> So now… the really hardcore civil libertarians among us are arguing that
> doing the PRC and using a commercial company on his DNA violates his 4th
> and 5th amendment rights.  Reasoning: it represents testimony against
> himself, and unwitting testimony from “witnesses” who would be his second
> and third cousins whose genetic similarity to him was what got him caught.
> So the argument becomes a little like the bad guy at the end of the Scooby
> Doo cartoons, where the bad guy now says “I woulda gotten away with it too,
> had it not been for that meddling DNA!”
> Whaddya think, especially USians?  Is that a legitimate argument?  I am
> leaning toward saying DNA evidence is equivalent to video of the bad guy,
> which is generally admissible by prosecutors in the USA, and is generally
> allowed as a means of catching the perp, but is generally rejected as
> evidence in the UK.

 I would lean toward admitting it.  It's passive evidence, much like the
video or traditional fingerprints.  The right to not self-incriminate is
with regard to actively given evidence.  Going through one's public
statements on social media is not the same as interrogating someone.  The
only question is whether there is a reasonable expectation of privacy about
one's genetic information when one gives it to a company for non-medical
reasons, and increasingly there does not seem to be.  (For one, the company
will often let random strangers see if their DNA matches yours.)
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