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Genomics for judges: Educating Illinois judges on how genetic info impacts court decisions
Date:1/27/2014

Genomic research will eventually uncover a complete picture of how our genetic information, acting in concert with our experiences, influences our behavior. When considering whether an individual's genetic inheritance can be blamed for criminal behavior, or how information on disease predisposition should be used, who is qualified to testify, and what kinds of knowledge are needed to make sound judicial decisions?

The Supreme Court of Illinois and its Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, in coordination with members of the Illinois Judicial Conference Committee on Education, appointed by the Supreme Court, are responsible for facilitating educational resources for Illinois judges. The Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) at the University of Illinois had the unique opportunity to work with the AOIC in offering a new seminar, "Genomics for(TM) Judges," that was designed to prepare judges to grapple with legal questions involving DNA sequencing and analysis, as well as related technologies, in the courts today and in the future.

The two-day course, held at the IGB on the Urbana-Champaign campus, was also supported by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and the College of Law. Forty-eight judges and justices from around Illinois were immersed in a rich scientific experience that included the structure and function of DNA, how gene function is influenced by the environment, and how genome sequences are analyzed.

The seminar included presentations by internationally renowned scientists and legal experts from the University of Illinois and other major institutions, as well as Gina Kolata, a New York Times science journalist. Other sessions explored the patentability of genomic technologies, the relationship between genetics and criminal behavior, and the accuracy and admissibility of DNA evidence. As part of a simulated exercise, judges were given the opportunity to work in a lab and to extract DNA from strawberries.'/>"/>

Contact: Nicholas Vasi
nvasi@illinois.edu
Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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Genomics for judges: Educating Illinois judges on how genetic info impacts court decisions
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