The Third Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Pritzker, over a concurrence, determined the evidence concerning the TrueAllele source code used to connect the DNA found at the murder scene to the defendant was testimonial, but the source code, as artificial intelligence, was not the declarant. Therefore the fact that the defendant was not provided with the source code (which was not requested by the defendant during the trial) did not deprive defendant of the right to confront the witnesses against him. Rather, the Third Department found, the witness who testified about how the source code was used in the DNA testing was the declarant. Defendant had raised the intriguing question whether the source code, as a form of artificial intelligence, was the actual declarant triggering the right of confrontation:
Cybergenetics was “acting in the role of assisting the police and prosecutors in developing evidence for use at trial” … . Also, the report reflects TrueAllele’s conclusions “upon review of the raw data associated with the testing” … . TrueAllele, by running at the source code’s direction, compared DNA found at the crime scene to that of defendant’s DNA and generated the report containing the likelihood ratios, which, in effect, implicates defendant in the murder; thus, it is clearly biased in favor of law enforcement … . Accordingly, application of the primary purpose test reveals that the TrueAllele report is testimonial in nature … .
Despite concluding that the TrueAllele report is testimonial, we do not find, given the particular facts of this case, that the source code, even through the medium of the computer, is a declarant. This is not to say that an artificial intelligence-type system could never be a declarant, nor is there little doubt that the report and likelihood ratios at issue were derived through distributed cognition between technology and humans … . Indeed, similar to many expert reports, the testimonial aspects of the TrueAllele report are formulated through a synergy and distributed cognition continuum between human and machine … , but this fact alone does not tip the scale so far as to transform the source code into a declarant. People v Wakefield, 2019 NY Slip Op 06143, Third Department, 8-15-19