When the principal, and perhaps sole, proof of guilt is a forensic test, such as DNA or fingerprint matching, there is a risk that credibility inflation or a “CSI” effect might unduly influence the jury.1 This is a cautionary tale about the dangers of allowing convictions to rest primarily on a single type of forensic identification evidence without meaningful corroboration.

New concepts like “bacterial profiles” (allowing identification from the bacteria left by a person’s hands) and “forensic molecular photofitting” (generating an image from a DNA sample)2 might one day join the growing catalog of forensic detecting and identification tools. And before more additions to this genre of evidence attain an air of infallibility, it is necessary to consider the limitations of current “gold standard” forensics as standalone evidence of guilt.

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