SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2015, Grapevine, TX

Description: Human identification based on DNA can reveal challenging ethical and social situations. Some of these challenges can be addressed by protocol adjustments and others must be managed ad hoc as situations arise. Often these challenges are distressing, controversial, and stressful to address. When it comes to ethical issues at the intersection of science and humanity, often there is not a simple solution or answer to the challenges. But always an open dialogue is necessary. In this interactive workshop, participants and experts will work together to discuss mock human identification scenarios from which social challenges may arise.

Objectives:

After attending the HITA Workshop participants will be able to:

  • Identify principles of ethics in DNA-based human identity applications.
  • Discuss social and ethical challenges with using genetic information in human identification.
  • Discuss management strategies to consider in addressing challenging situations in human identification.
  • Examine the implications of ethical, legal, social and cultural issues arising in the use of genetic technologies for human identification, as well as the policy options.

 

Time Topic Speaker / Moderator
1:00 – 1:10 Welcome and Introductions Mike Baird, DNA Diagnostics
Mandy Sozer, SNA International
1:10 – 1:30 Panelist Introductions Bruce Budowle, UNTHSC
Cris Hughes, U of Illinois
Tim Kupferschmid, NYC OCME
Erin Murphy, NYU
1:30 – 2:00 Social Implications Overview and case scenario presentations Sara Katsanis, Duke University
2:00 – 2:45 Breakout Discussions
2:45 – 3:00 BREAK
3:00 – 3:20 Scenario A – Incidental Findings
3:20 – 3:40 Scenario B – New Technologies
3:40 – 4:00 Scenario C – Investigative Approaches
4:00 – 4:20 Scenario D – Conflict of Interest (police lab)
4:20 – 4:40 Scenario E – Conflict of Interest (analysts’ ethics)
4:40 – 4:55 Open Discussion with Panelists
4:55 – 5:00 Closing Remarks Mandy Sozer & Mike Baird

 

Case Descriptions

Scenario A (INCIDENTAL FINDINGS)
A pairwise comparison in CODIS reveals a hit to unidentified remains associates a potential mother of the remains but reveals non-paternity in the claimed father.
  • What are the legal, ethical and social implications of revealing the non-paternity?
  • What are the implications of NOT revealing the non-paternity?
  • What mechanisms should be in place to manage this unexpected finding?
  • Should search parameters (e.g., joint probability search) be set to avoid this type of revelation?
  • What is the potential false positive of this “association?”
Scenario B (NEW TECHNOLOGIES)
Severely challenged bone fragments from a mass grave do not type with standard STRs or mtDNA sequencing of HV regions. The reported victims’ siblings and spouses are now in their 80s and 90s and hoping to bury identified remains in family plots before they die; several are terminally ill. The laboratory is developing NGS for challenged samples, but SWGDAM has not yet issued guidance on validating or reporting NGS data, and standards are unlikely to be announced in the foreseeable future. The laboratory had developed their own protocols and internally validated their approaches.
  • What are the legal, ethical and social implications of using NGS to sequence the challenged samples (and the reference samples) for alternate genome and non-HV mt sequences?
  • What are the implications of NOT using NGS on these samples?
  • What are the obligations of the laboratory to the broader forensic discipline as they develop new technologies?
  • What are the obligations of the laboratory to the families requesting expeditious genotyping?
  • What are the obligations of the laboratory to society to identify remains?
Scenario C (INVESTIGATIVE APPROACHES)
A DNA profile has been generated from the sperm fraction of a vaginal swab obtained from a sexual assault victim. Multiple hits in the forensic index of CODIS to other sexual assault evidence have indicated that the perpetrator could be a serial rapist. However, the 13-STR profile does not result in any CODIS hits to the offender index. Investigators are considering intelligence DNA tools including familial searching of CODIS, familial searches of a non-law enforcement database, like ancestry.com, forensic ancestry typing and molecular photo-fitting.
  • What are the legal, ethical and social implications of using each of these tools to gain leads in this case?
  • What are the legal, ethical and social implications of NOT using DNA intelligence approaches to gain leads in this case?
  • What mechanisms or protections are needed to responsibly manage intelligence DNA testing approaches?
Scenario D (CONFLICT OF INTEREST – POLICE LAB)
Sexual assault of a 25-year old woman has garnered national attention as she has accused a police officer of the crime. The African American complainant has a criminal history with multiple arrests and one assault and battery charge and conviction. The officer is of European descent and in a precinct with a media reputation for a “culture of violence.” The sexual assault kit is submitted for analysis to the local laboratory that handles that jurisdiction’s forensic evidence.
  • Does the formal relationship between the lab and the police in the district matter, such as whether the police chief is in charge of the lab?
  • What are the legal, ethical and social implications of reporting and testifying on this evidence?
  • What are the legal, ethical and social implications of NOT reporting and testifying on this evidence?
  • Does it matter whether the evidence is a clear match, a partial match, or nonmatching?
  • What obligations does the precinct have in managing this case?
Scenario E (CONFLICT OF INTEREST – ANALYST ETHICS)
Rape and homicide of two teenager girls has garnered national attention as the accused is the father of the children and faces the death penalty. The sexual assault kits of the two girls reveal sperm fractions that cannot exclude the father. The DNA analysis and report is complicated since the father and daughters share alleles. The DNA analyst that handled the case and that will testify on the evidence opposes the death penalty and frequently protests cases with her church congregation.
  • Should the DNA analysis be retested in another district or by a different analyst to eliminate bias in the courtroom testimony?
  • What are the legal, ethical and social implications of reporting and testifying on this evidence?
  • What are the legal, ethical and social implications of re-testing the evidence by another analyst?
  • Does it matter that this case is an accusation of incest (i.e., that the DNA of the accused and victims are shared)?
  • What obligations does the precinct have in managing this case?