MBA: Tell me a little about your background in law and your current practice.
Currently, I am a solo practice attorney and primarily practice in criminal defense (both white and blue collar) crimes and transactional business law. I have my MBA in International Business and a law degree. I am licensed in three states (Missouri, Illinois, & Kansas) and now am taking my practice “virtual”—meaning, I don’t have a physical location and I meet my clients at a mutually convenient location, if necessary. The LAW. DELIVERED….so to speak.
Check out my new law office website at anjalilawoffice.com. You can always find me at the following social media locations:
Follow me on Twitter @anjalisidebar
LinkedIn: Law Office of Anjali B. Dooley, LLC
Facebook: Law Office of Anjali B. Dooley, LLC-–Like my page!
MBA: Somehow you also find the time to host an Internet radio/TV show, how did that come about?
When I was a child, I always wanted to be the next Jane Pauley. I thought she was smart, articulate, and so commanding as a female journalist. As a lawyer, I wanted to explain and report to the public how the legal and criminal justice system worked. I started with SIDEBAR™ as a 7-10 minute segment answering legal questions on the radio. I moved on with SIDEBAR™ to IWATCHRADIO.TV, where now you can see what I’m talking about! I have a weekly show where I summarize legal news hot topics, and often have on experts that speak to various specific cases or general legal topics. I also am an expert and address callers’ and co-host’s legal questions. I absolutely love informing the public on the in & out’s of the legal system!
MBA: In your career have you enjoyed defense work or prosecution work more, and why?
Well, I really can’t take sides, and I have enjoyed both. What I have discovered after having worked as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, is that the criminal defense bar really thinks outside of the box so to speak…in defenses they move forward with and presentation of their cases to the jury.
MBA: How significant of a role does DNA play in your cases?
So far the lack of DNA evidence and the credibility of the victim has lent to dismissals of two different child molestation cases as a defense attorney. One was dismissed after deposing of the 16-year old victim and she could not keep her story straight. In addition there was no viable DNA semen sample of the step-father, the defendant in the case. The second was never pursued as a pre-file because again lack of DNA evidence and the character of the victim. It was the helpful in the second case that the defendant contacted me as soon as the police started their investigation process and I was able to speak with detective investigating the case. So in both cases, I guess the DNA was not as important as other aspects of the cases.
As an assistant special prosecutor, I assisted in a murder trial and gathering evidence in that case. The DNA evidence of the defendant was important to seal the case and obtain a murder conviction; however, there was already other evidence: physical, testimonial, and circumstantial tying him to the murder of his ex-girlfirend.
MBA: What do you think the overall comfort level of the defense bar is with DNA evidence?
This depends on the attorney, the expert prepping them and the interest level of learning the in’s and out’s of DNA evidence. Of course, training and obtaining legal education in this area is very important and how to use the evidence properly. It really depends on the attorney and is a case by case basis.
MBA: In your opinion, is DNA sometimes ‘oversold’ by prosecutors?
Of course it is, if they only hinge their case on the presence of DNA evidence of the alleged defendant! Good prosecutors use DNA evidence as the closing deal after trying the case based on other evidence.
MBA: As a defense attorney, what are important things to remember when dealing with DNA evidence in a jury trial?
The mere presence of your client’s DNA at a crime scene is not the end all, be all of a case—especially in this day and age. A jury wants you or the prosecutor to tie the DNA evidence specifically to the defendant. (THEY WANT THE CSI EFFECT). Although, this also depends on the jurisdiction you are practicing in and how savvy your jury is. Furthermore, the lack of DNA evidence doesn’t mean your client will be found innocent. In fact, the mere testimony of the victim can be very damning to the case. Picking a proper jury is critical in a criminal case.
MBA: Do you see the defense as being at a disadvantage when it comes to the use of DNA in cases?
Yes, when the defendant doesn’t have the funds or knowledge to assist in his own defense of the case. Or when the prosecution does not reveal the lack of DNA or the presence of say another person’s DNA at a crime scene that may or may not exonerate the defendant. Again, it is a case-by-case basis. DNA can be useful to the defense if they can get the information they need in a timely manner! However, that is NEVER the case and it’s not like it is on TV or movies where the case is solved based on the DNA and everyone goes home happy.
MBA: Anything else you would like to add regarding your experience with DNA in the justice system?
Well the use of DNA evidence is hard, and what defense attorneys should know is the prosecutor is going to question the jury on how much they want to see as to DNA evidence and how much they know about DNA evidence. Questioning the jury on if they are looking for a CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) type of smoking gun as you see on TV is important. Because NO case I have been involved in is like what I see on TV/movies!