Litigating a DNA Case: Developing the Building Blocks to a Successful Defense
October 30, 2017 12:30 p.m. Eastern, 90 minutes
Webinar Faculty: Andre Vitale, Assistant Training Director, King County Department of Public Defense (Seattle, WA)
About the Webinar: Notice from the Prosecution that biological evidence has been recovered from the scene of an alleged crime which “matches” the person you represent can strike disappointment in even the most seasoned trial lawyer. Some believe the presence of a DNA “match” means the defense should try to work out the best plea deal possible. This belief is based upon the idea that DNA evidence cannot be effectively challenged. DNA is held out as the Gold Standard in identification evidence; a Smoking Gun. While successfully challenging DNA testimony can be a difficult hurdle to overcome in developing a successful defense, it is not impossible. This presentation will provide attorneys with a solid understanding of DNA evidence and how to understand the reports provided by the crime lab. We will discuss what to look for when you are informed there is biological evidence reported as linking your client to a crime. Attendees will learn about different approaches to challenging DNA evidence both at the pre–trial and trial stages of a case. This presentation will provide lawyers the tools to develop a strong, if not successful defense when the Government seeks to present DNA testimony against your client.
About the Faculty:
Andre Vitale previously served as Special Assistant Public Defender, Trial lawyer, and Training Director for 18 plus years at the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office (Rochester, NY). Andre has extensive experience handling the most difficult and complex cases as a trial lawyer having litigated more than 90 jury trials. He has developed an expertise in defending sex cases and challenging DNA evidence. Andre has used the skills and knowledge he gained in the courtroom to develop innovative training programs, designed to help attorneys enhance their legal skills. Through his training programs, Andre seeks to help both new and more experienced lawyers enhance their legal knowledge as well as build confidence in their ability, inspiring them to serve as client–centered, fearless, and relentless advocates. One program he developed which focuses on Defending a Sex Case has been used by the Montana Office of the State Defender, the Missouri State Public Defender’s Office, and the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender to train attorneys in those states. Andre is on the faculty of Gideon’s Promise (gideonspromise.org) and Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute Trial Advocacy Workshop. He has also served on the faculty of the Bronx Defenders’ Trial Academy; the Louisiana Public Defender Training Institute; the Litigation and Persuasion Institute (Department of Public Advocacy, Kentucky);, the Trial Litigation Institute (New Jersey State Defender); the ADC Trial Advocacy Program (Colorado State Defender), Legal Aid Society’s (NYC) DNA Defense College, and the Litigation Talent Academy in King County before joining their team as Assistant Training Director. Andre is both a presenter and frequent blog contributor for the National Association of Public Defense (publicdefenders.us), where he also serves as a member the Racial Justice Committee. He is a former Board Member with the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NYSACDL), having served as Vice President, as well as Chair of both their CLE and Indigent Defense Committees. Due to his passion and commitment to client–centered representation, Andre has received the Kevin Andersen Award by the New York State Defender’s Association (NYSDA) and the Denison Ray Award by the New York State Bar Association. In addition to his legal accomplishments, Andre has finished nineteen marathons.