Stronger evidence in courtrooms—it’s what every attorney, defendant, and plaintiff dreams of. Beginning in the last 1980s, this is exactly what began to surface through DNA profiling.
In addition to the one-of-a-kind pattern engraved on our fingers, each of us possesses a unique identifier that is built within our bodies. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the genetic blueprint that determines our biological characteristics. DNA is a long molecule located in almost every cell in the human body. When we are conceived, we inherit half of our DNA from our mother and half from our father. Although every human’s DNA is 99.9% identical, the remaining 0.1% is enough to uniquely identify an individual. Our DNA is made up of about 3 billion base pairs, the building blocks of DNA composed mainly of carbon and sugar. The 0.1% (3 million) base pairs that make us unique are what constitute our DNA fingerprint.
Over the past 20 years, courts have been able to rely upon the consistent accuracy of DNA profiling, also known as DNA fingerprinting, to solve crimes. DNA profiling has even been used to solve crimes that are more than 30 years old.
Here’s how DNA profiling is done:
- Specimens are collected from the crime scene. Anything can be used to extract DNA: Hair, blood, bodily fluids, etc. In some cases, victims may have scratched their attackers, in which case skin cells can be extracted from underneath the victim’s fingernails in order to identify the criminal
- The DNA needs to be isolated and cut so that it can be matched against other samples. Special enzymes recognize patterns in the DNA and cut the strand
- In a process called electrophoresis, the strands are then placed on a gel where they are separated an electric current passed through it.
- The resulting fragments are compared against samples of all suspects and a match is determined.
DNA profiling is mostly used in sexual offences (60%), homicide (20%), assaults (7%), robbery (7%), criminal damage (1%), and other cases (5%).
DNA profiling narrows the list of suspects that authorities need to work through. The FBI commented that DNA profiling allows them to dismiss one-third of rape suspects because the DNA samples do not match. Authorities recognize the possibility of specimens being planted at crime scenes, and therefore continue to investigate the crime based on motive, weapon, testimony, and other clues in order to more accurately solve the case.
If you have become sick from exposure to asbestos, then you may be looking to take legal action. If so you might be asking yourself the question, “Do I need a Lawyer,” or “What type of Lawyer Should I Hire?” Legal issues are tough, and you need to make a decision if you are going to fly solo, or have an attorney represent you.
First off, you will need a lawyer if you want to win a lawsuit in an asbestos case, but the good news is that if you circumstances meet the qualifications then you can get a lawyer without having to pay anything out of pocket. They will get paid after the case has been won.
Second, you are going to need to look for a lawyer that specializes in asbestos cases, and has a strong background of winning cases. When you enter that courtroom and all eyes are on you. A lawyer that is specialized in winning cases that deal with asbestos is going to make all the difference in the world because they will have answer to the hard questions, and will have an idea to as to what type of questions opposing counsel is going to ask. A great lawyer is the difference between winning and loosing, so be sure to take you time and make sure you find the right attorney to represent you.
In closing if you are looking to win your asbestos case then you are going to need a tough lawyer that is ready to fight for you, and has a history of dealing with these specific cases. I believe once you have the right lawyer, then you will be on your way to the settlement that you deserve for your injury.
Businesses routinely maintain copies of correspondence and memos. Far to often, however, they do not extend this practice to email correspondence. Email correspondence is no different then your normal paperwork. You must keep copies of all of it to protect your business in any litigation.
Currently, only banks and broker-dealers are obliged to retain e-mail and instant messaging documents for three years under U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rules. Beginning July 2006, all public companies will also be required to do so under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Notwithstanding these laws, your custom and practice should be to maintain copies of all email correspondence. Email is considered evidence and courts are hammering businesses that do not maintain email records. Judges are often ruling that the failure to maintain and produce email records means the business in question is hiding key evidence.
In the recent Perelman v. Morgan Stanley litigation, a judge’s ruling on the failure of Morgan Stanley to produce email was key factor in the issuance of a $1.45 billion verdict. Based on the failure to produce email records, Judge Elizabeth Maass issued a pretrial ruling that effectively found Morgan Stanley conspired to defraud Perelman in a 1998 deal. Morgan Stanley is not the only business defendant to have this problem.
In the summer of 2004, UBS bank was found by a judge to have “willfully destroyed” email evidence in a discrimination case. UBS was ordered to pay costs and a jury returned a $29 million verdict.
To protect your business, you must have a procedure in place to maintain email communications generated through the business. Failure to keep these records can lead to rulings in litigation that your business willfully destroyed evidence. If this occurs, the judge may issue significant monetary sanctions, automatically find you liable or take other harsh steps that assure a victory for the Plaintiff. As if such developments are not bad enough, there exists a second risk associated with email communications.
Maintaining email communications, however, can have a downside. The problem arises, of course, when a communication contains statements that are damaging to your business. Yes, the proverbial catch-22 situation.
To avoid such disasters, your business must develop a clear policy on email communications and train all employees to comply with that policy. Employees must understand the business environment is not one in which jokes, flippant remarks and so on should be made in email communications.