Qualifications of the Expert
What are your name and title?
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
How long have you been in your current position?
Approximately how many mtDNA analyses have you conducted?
Of these, how many tests have you conducted with respect to forensic evidence used in court?
What academic degrees do you have and from which institutions?
What was the topic of your Ph.D., M.S., or M.F.S?
How many years have you been working with mtDNA?
Can you give us an example of a case you have been involved in?
Are you familiar with the term "forensic science"?
Prior to your current employment, where were you employed?
Are you a member of any professional organizations?
Have you authored any articles or abstracts?
Are you familiar with the term "peer review" and its meaning?
Have the articles you authored been subject to peer review?
Have you presented talks at any conferences, if so, which ones?
Have you ever testified regarding mtDNA, including not only the extraction, amplification, and sequencing of forensic samples, but the statistical interpretation?
In how many states and what courts?
In Federal court?
Have you testified for both the People and the defense?
Have you ever been qualified as an expert in the area of genetics and mtDNA analysis and interpretation?
If so, about how many times?
Have you ever been offered as an expert in any area and not been qualified?
Additional Qualifications of the Laboratory
How long has the laboratory been performing mitochondrial DNA analysis?
Approximately how many cases has the laboratory done?
Who are the primary clients of the laboratory?
Is the laboratory accredited or certified by any agency?
If so, by which agencies?
For how long?
What are validation studies?
Does the laboratory perform validation studies?
What are proficiency tests?
Does the laboratory take proficiency tests?
What have been the results of the proficiency tests for the lab?
Does the lab have standard operating procedures?
What does the laboratory do to prevent, track and monitor contamination?
What controls are used during the analysis?
What are the protocols for chain of custody?
Introduction of Mitochondrial DNA
Can you explain the basic biology of mitochondrial DNA and its use in forensic science? [a good time to do jury education with some overhead diagrams].
Is mitochondrial DNA a unique identifier, and what does that mean?
How is it inherited?
What kinds of samples is it used on?
What are the differences between mtDNA and nuclear DNA testing?
Why would mtDNA analysis be used instead of nuclear DNA analysis?
What are the advantages of mtDNA analysis?
What are the disadvantages of mtDNA analysis?
If two brothers have the same mother, would they have the same mtDNA type?
What about a mother and her children?
What are the stages of the analysis?
What is DNA extraction?
What is PCR amplification?
What is DNA sequencing?
Are these techniques used in other areas of science?
Describe the comparison between the mitochondrial DNA profiles of two samples?
What is an exclusion?
What is a failure to exclude?
What is a database comparison?
What is the meaning of a mitochondrial DNA match?
What database is currently used for mitochondrial DNA testing?
How are the statistics calculated and what do they mean?
What other applications besides forensics has mtDNA been used in?
What are some interesting historical cases it has been used in?
How many laboratories are providing mitochondrial DNA analysis?
Which government labs are providing it and what do they do?
Specifics of the Case in Trial
What evidence was received, when, from whom, and by what method?
What was the laboratory asked to do with the evidence?
What questioned evidentiary samples were provided?
Who was the donor of each known reference sample?
What was the outcome of the testing?
Was anyone excluded as the donor of the questioned sample(s)?
Was anyone not excluded as the donor of the questioned sample(s)?
Can maternal relatives be excluded as the donor of the questioned sample(s)?
Is it possible that anyone else in the population could have the mitochondrial DNA that was observed?
Was a database search performed?
What were the results?
What were the statistical results of the database search?
Was the evidence sealed and returned?
Where is it now?