HISTSCI 136 Study Guide - Final Guide: National Human Genome Research Institute, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Roslin Institute

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26 Jun 2018
1. Choose one example discussed in class or the readings in which legal
expertise intersects with scientific expertise. Summarize the case and then
analyze how the competing aims of science and the law shape the status of
scientific facts or evidence in your examples. For example, are biological
concepts (of kinship, property, identity) reconfigured in your example? How is
scientific authority and validity constructed or deployed to ground legal
Example: Buzzanca v. Buzzanca
Background: John and Luanne Buzzanaca were an infertile couple who used an
anonymously donated egg and sperm via an IVF clinic and paid a surrogate named
Pamela to carry the fetus to term. At the 8 month point, John divorced Luanne and
stated that he would not be paying child support. The child was born in 1995.
The Case: Luanne took John to court claiming both are lawful parents and that he ought
to be required to pay child support. Pamela, the surrogate also went to court to state the
child is not hers and neither she nor her husband had an obligation to pay child support.
Decision: The court believed that the child, JC, had up to 6 possible parents: the
intended couple, the anonymous genetic gamete donors, and the gestational mother
and her husband. Initially the court determined that the child is an orphan: The
surrogate is not genetic parent – no maternal rights and therefore her husband has no
paternal rights; Luanne is not the mother because she contributed neither egg nor
carried the baby to term (no genetic connection) & John therefore also cannot be the
father; finally, because gamete donors are anonymous they cannot be identified and are
also not the parents.
Appeal: On appeal however it is determined that due to their intent to have the child,
John and Luanne are in fact the lawful parents because they had the initiating role as
intended parents in the conception and birth of JC.
Significance: Important because this case redefined parental and kinship bonds. No
longer was genetics or gestation the basis of parenthood, instead intent to conceive and
have a child was the basis of legal parenthood. Kinship, specifically parenthood, is
something you choose, a social decision. The ramifications of this case are similar and
reminiscent to the Uniform Parentage Act of 1993 in California.
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Analysis: The biological concepts of kinship are reconstructed by the legal decision that
parentage is a social choice and therefore the biotechnological or natural means by
which a child is brought into the world are insignificant allowing for the science behind
IVF and surrogacy to ground the legal decision. In this case, parenthood, and
fatherhood in particular, were established by actions and intention rather than genetic
2. Read the Supreme Court ruling on Maryland v. King (2013). On the basis of
what you have learned and read about genomic sequencing and databasing, draft
a dissenting opinion.
Maryland v. King (2013)
The Maryland DNA Collection Act (MDCA) allowed law enforecement to collect DNA
samples from people who are arrested for crimes. Alonzo Jay King, Jr. was arrested on first
and second degree assault charges. While under arrest, but prior to conviction, King's DNA was
collected and logged in Maryland's DNA database. That database matched King's DNA to a
DNA sample from an unsolved rape case. This sample was the only evidence linking King to the
rape. The trial judge denied King's motion to suppress the DNA evidence and he was convicted
of first-degree rape and sentenced to life in prison.
The Court of Appeals held that King’s expectation of privacy was greater than Maryland’s
interest in using the DNA. This went to the supreme court.
Main Question: Does the Fourth Amendment allow states to collect and analyze DNA from
people arrested, but not convicted, of serious crimes?
Supreme court says YES. Justice Anthony Kennedy said that conducting a DNA swab test as
part of the arrest procedure does not violate the Fourth Amendment because the test serves a
legitimate state interest and is not so invasive as to require a warrant. The DNA tests is just as
valid and informative as fingerprinting. Determining an arrestee’s criminal history also serves
the legit state interest of determining the individual’s level of risk
Dissent: 4th amendment prevents searching a person for evidence of a crime without cause.
Because the majority’s opinion allows for DNA tests to be conducted in the absence of evidence
linking the arrestee to a specific DNA-related crime, these tests fall within the category of the
British “general warrants” the fourth amendment sought to safeguard against. He also argued
that the procedural safeguards on the DNA evidence make it ineffective and redundant as an
identification tool.
Does the possibility of catching more criminals using genomic databasing outweigh the
potential breaches of consent and other risks associated with databasing genomics?
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RABINOW: biosociality: DNA articulated identities are now an instrument of justice that
determines guilt and innocence
Two grounds for dissent:
1. Violates fourth amendment; should not be able to do DNA tests in the absence of
evidence linking the arrestee to a specific DNA related crime
In the UK, they have a large genomic database, but a suspect may only be charged for
a crime once there is further supporting evidence other than that produced by a match
in the database. (from Lynch reading)
Raises issue of consent- these people did not necessarily consent to having their genes
databased, only collected for that particular case. In UK, the PACE Act in 1984 required
that people had to give consent to provide “intimate samples”, which included DNA from
cheek swabs and blood; hair samples were “nonintimate” and were fair game (it seems
like intimate means inside the body, and nonintimate means outside)
Being in the database makes you a pre-suspect, in effect.
2. Procedural safeguards on DNA evidence make it ineffective and redundant
Chances of an “adventitious” match; there are lots of different entries in the database,
and two different people could accidentally be matched; there’s a relatively high rate of
these false positives (~25%); the chances of these kinds of matches increases when
looking for partial matches→ could lead to the conviction of the wrong person if we
operate on these matches alone! (also from Lynch reading)
Regina v. Deen (1994)- basically a case of how DNA matches are interpreted
DNA profile match was most important prosecution evidence against a convicted
How DNA data was interpreted and how DNA match statistics were determined
was controversial
Racial question- eyewitness account determined the pool of DNA compared to
the sample (“black” DNA), but no confirmation about whether Deen was of African
descent; raises questions of which pools to which we compare the DNA sample
Important questions to consider about these DNA matches:
1. What is probability that someone would match the DNA profile from the crime sample
given that he was innocent?
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