Cited Article

The DNA Paternity Test: Legislating the Future Paternity Action

Case Citation

Dep’t of Human Serv. v. Hooper, No. 01-A-01-9605-CV-00231, 1997 Tenn. App. LEXIS 139 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997)


The fact-specific holding “Summary judgment declaring defendant's paternity was improperly granted because a statutory conclusive presumption of paternity where scientific probability of paternity was 99 percent or greater violated defendant's right to due process of law.”

Citing Quote

The final consideration under Mathews v. Eldridge involves the risk of inaccurately adjudicating someone a father because the conclusive presumption has foreclosed his ability to demonstrate that he is not the father of a particular child. To understand this risk, it is essential to understand what the probability of paternity percentage actually means. With a 9.98% probability of paternity, which is significantly higher than Defendant's in this case, "in a city with a same-race male population of 500,000, or even 500,001, one hundred other men might theoretically be the father. Taking this to a global scale, if there are 500 million men of the same-race on the planet, 100,000 men might theoretically qualify as putative fathers." E. Donald Shapiro et al, The DNA Paternity Test: Legislating the Future Paternity Action, 7 J.L. & Health, 1, 44 (1992-93) While this article is highly supportive of the use of DNA to determine paternity, it advocates a uniform paternity law where there is a conclusive presumption of paternity only in cases in which the probability of paternity is 99.9999% or above). Although we acknowledge that it is extremely likely that the man named in a paternity action with a 99% or greater probability of paternity is the true father, "the fact remains that paternity indexes are not mathematically solid." Id. In addition, there is the problem of human error in the scientific analyses of the DNA. See Edward J. Imwinkelried, The Debate in the DNA Cases over the Foundation for the Admission of Scientific Evidence: The Importance of Human Error as a Cause of Forensic Misanalysis , 69 Wash U.L.Q. 19, 22 (1991)(indicating that there "is mounting evidence of a significant margin of error in scientific analysis... [and] that fifteen percent of all medical laboratory tests are in error.") It is indisputable that an opportunity to be heard would be of value in guarding against an erroneous adjudication or paternity based upon a misleading or an inaccurate DNA test result.

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