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Name: Brown v. Farwell
Case #: 07-15592
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 05/05/2008
Summary

It is error to present statistical evidence to suggest that the DNA evidence obtained indicates the likelihood of defendant’s guilt rather than the odds of the evidence having been found in a randomly selected sample (“prosecutor’s fallacy”). In this prosecution for the 1994 sexual assault of a child, the prosecution presented an expert who testified about DNA. The prosecution conceded that absent this evidence, there was insufficient evidence to convict. Appellant argued that the testimony was unreliable and it was subsequently established that the prosecutor had elicited testimony that confused source with random match probability and that with this testimony, the jury was essentially told that the DNA proved 99.999% that appellant was guilty. The appellate court agreed that the evidence had been erroneously admitted and petitioner’s habeas action was granted and the conviction reversed with directions to retry him in 180 days or release him.