National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence

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The National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence was established by the Attorney General to maximize the value of forensic DNA evidence in the criminal justice system.

On this page find:

Overview of the DNA Commission

After reading Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science: Case Studies in the Use of DNA Evidence to Establish Innocence After Trial , the Attorney General directed the National Institute of Justice to establish and administer a commission. The purpose of the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence was to provide the Attorney General with recommendations on the use of current and future DNA methods, applications and technologies in the operation of the criminal justice system, from the crime scene to the courtroom. The Commission held its first meeting on March 18, 1998.

Over the course of its charter, the Commission reviewed critical policy issues regarding DNA evidence and provided recommended courses of action to improve its use as a tool of investigation and adjudication in criminal cases.

The Commission addressed issues in five specific areas:

  1. The use of DNA in post-conviction relief cases.
  2. Legal concerns including Daubert challenges and the scope of discovery in DNA cases.
  3. Criteria for training and technical assistance for criminal justice professionals involved in the identification, collection and preservation of DNA evidence at the crime scene.
  4. Essential laboratory capabilities in the face of emerging technologies.
  5. The impact of future technological developments on the use of DNA in the criminal justice system.

Each topic was the focus of in-depth analysis by separate working groups comprised of prominent professionals who reported back to the Commission.

Commission Meeting Transcripts

Read transcripts or summaries of the DNA Commission meetings:

Publications & Training from the Commission

The Commission produced:

DNA Commission Members

The Commission was chaired by the Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Honorable Shirley S. Abrahamson. The nineteen commissioners, who encompassed a broad range of policy makers and authorities concerned with the use of DNA evidence, are listed below.


Shirley S. Abrahamson, J.D., S.J.D.
Chief Justice
Wisconsin Supreme Court


Dwight E. Adams, Ph.D.
Section Chief, Scientific Analysis

Jan S. Bashinski
Chief, Bureau of Forensic Services
California Department of Justice

George W. Clarke
Deputy District Attorney
San Diego, California

Professor James Crow, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin at Madison

Hon. Lloyd N. Cutler
Wilmer, Cutler, & Pickering
Washington, DC

Joseph H. Davis, M.D.
Medical Examiner Department
Metro-Dade County, Florida

Paul B. Ferrara, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Forensic Sciences
Commonwealth of Virginia

Norman Gahn
Assistant District Attorney
Milwaukee County, Wisconsin

Terrance W. Gainer
Executive Assistant Chief
Metropolitan Police Department
Washington, DC

Terry Hillard
Chicago, Illinois Police Department

Sheriff Aaron D. Kennard
Salt Lake County, Utah Sheriff's Office

Philip Reilly, M.D., J.D.
President and CEO
Shriver Center for Mental Retardation

Hon. Ronald Reinstein
Associate Presiding Judge
Superior Court of Arizona

Chief Darrell Sanders
Frankfort Police Department
Frankfort, Illinois

Professor Barry C. Scheck
Carodozo Law School
New York City

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke
Office of the Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland

Professor Michael Smith
University of Wisconsin Law School

Jeffrey E. Thoma
Public Defender
Mendocino County, California

Kathryn Turman
Acting Director
Office for Victims of Crime

Judge William Webster
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley, & McCloy
Washington, DC

James R. Wooley
Assistant U.S. Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice
Cleveland, Ohio

Executive Director:
Christopher H. Asplen, AUSA
National Institute of Justice

Deputy Director:
Lisa Forman, Ph.D.
National Institute of Justice

Executive Assistant:
Robin S. Wilson
National Institute of Justice

Date Modified: April 3, 2013