Linking the Forensic Biology classroom to the courtroom


  • Heather Coyle University of New Haven


ASCLD guiding principles, courtroom testimony, forensic biology, DNA, blood pattern analysis (BPA), evidence collection


The concept of clear communication and truth in testimony is examined in the forensic biology classroom by introducing undergraduate students to the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) guiding principles and then having an evidentiary hearing transcript evaluated for key concepts from an adjudicated post-conviction case where blood pattern analysis, DNA test results and legal definitions are considered carefully. The intrigue in this case develops after a blood pattern expert is
identified as fraudulent and nonstandard science is applied after poor evidence collection and storage practices. The goal with this exercise is to examine each word of the transcript with pre-identified court issues to determine if students believe the concept from the transcript to be true. A comparison to current best practice recommendations is also provided in student discussions and demonstrations to aid them in evaluating the changes in forensic science practices from the pre-DNA to post-DNA era that may often be encountered in post-conviction review work.

Author Biography

  • Heather Coyle, University of New Haven

    Associate Professor, University of New Haven 2005-present







Activity or Laboratory Experiment: College Educators