Strmix Case Study

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ADMISSIBILITY UNDER S 79(1) The applicant sought to exclude opinion evidence on the grounds that the expert opinion evidence did not fall within the scope of the exception under s 79(1) . The Court agreed with the trial judge in that while DNA is one of the most well-known sub-sets of forensic science, as the trial judge identified, the applicant’s objection was not that the witnesses were unqualified, but rather, its submission was that STRmix and its probabilistic methodology were not yet validated or recognised and was therefore not a field upon which an expert could have ‘specialised knowledge’ . The trial judge summarised the applicant’s case that “STRmix has not been shown to be a reliable tool for the statistical evaluation of DNA profiles”…show more content…
The Court refers to Gleeson CJ’s statement in HG v The Queen that “it is the language of s 79(1) which has to be applied” .* Confirming this, the Court appears to rely heavily on Parliament’s intention, which it states is “repeatedly emphasised” by the High Court . On the plain reading and language of s 79(1), their Honours state that there is “no room for reading in a test of evidentiary reliability as a condition of admissibility” . It was a shallow reading that did not extend beyond the literal meaning of the legislation for the reason that the Court determined that because “[No] such language was used” to stipulate that the evidence pertain to a ‘reliable’ or ‘established’ body of knowledge , and “the legislative history makes clear that this was a deliberate legislative choice”, they did not impute an assessment of evidentiary reliability on s 79(1) . The Court appears to have largely replicated that published in the 1985 Interim Report on Evidence, where the Australian Law Reform Commission stated that a ‘field of expertise’ test is unadvisable, and so the Court does not find that determining whether a field is one in which one can have expertise is inappropriate is relevant to s 79(1) . The Court also looked to the more recent discussion of the question in 2005 in the join report on Evidence by the Australian, New South Wales and Victorian Law Reform Commissions [81] . Again, the discussion regarding and subsequently rejecting a ‘general acceptance test’ or a ‘reputable body of opinion’ test because, as the Commission referred to its 1985 report, it was “too strict”, and potentially exclude a great deal of “useful and reliable evidence” . The Court, as the Commission identifies, the general discretion of a court to exclude evidence where it is more prejudicial than probative. This was later consolidated into s 137 of the Uniform

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