The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge DiFiore, over a three-judge concurring opinion, determined that the trial judge, after a Frye hearing, properly admitted DNA evidence generated by the TrueAllele Casework System. The arguments that the defense was entitled to the TrueAllele software source code in connection with the Frye hearing and in order to confront the witnesses against the defendant were rejected. The concurrence stated that it remains an open question whether a protective order could be used to supply the defense with the source code:
This appeal primarily concerns the admissibility of DNA mixture interpretation evidence generated by the TrueAllele Casework System. We conclude that Supreme Court did not abuse its discretion in finding, following a Frye hearing, that TrueAllele’s use of the continuous probabilistic genotyping approach to generate a statistical likelihood ratio—including the use of peak data below the stochastic threshold—of a DNA genotype is generally accepted in the relevant scientific community. We also hold that there was no error in the court’s denial of defendant’s request for discovery of the TrueAllele software source code in connection with the Frye hearing or for the purpose of his Sixth Amendment right to confront the witness against him at trial.
From the concurring opinion:
Although the prosecutor failed to establish that, at the time of the Frye hearing, TrueAllele’s methodology was properly validated by disinterested parties with access to the source code, and defendant was denied an opportunity to review the source code because of the developer’s proprietary claims, the error, considered alone or with the other alleged constitutional error, was harmless on the facts of this case.
Even though the majority rejects defendant’s claim to the source code on the facts of this case, it remains an open question in this Court whether a defendant should be granted access to a proprietary source code under a protective order. This familiar method of ensuring a defendant’s right to present a defense would safeguard commercial interests. It provides no help to this defendant, but it is squarely within a court’s authority to grant such an order in an appropriate future case. People v Wakefield, 2022 NY Slip Op 02771, CtApp 4-26-22
Practice Point: The Court of Appeal holds that DNA evidence generated by the TrueAllele Casework System is admissible. The defense was not entitled to the TrueAllele software code either for the Frye hearing or in order the confront the witnesses against the defendant. It is an open question whether the defense could gain access to the software code by way of a protective order (suggested by the concurring opinion).