DNA has become an increasingly common source of evidence in criminal cases. Sometimes it provides proof that some were wrongfully prosecuted. In other cases, it has helped identify the guilty party years or decades after the crime was committed.
However, defenses in new cases are requesting the right to examine and challenge all DNA evidence used against them. One recent example of this issue was in the appeals court in New Jersey, which ruled in favor of the defendant.
The case New Jersey v. Pickett used DNA evidence gathered and analyzed by TrueAllele software to analyze a handgun with several people’s DNA on it. The prosecution argued that the defendant’s DNA was one of those on the gun, thus implicating him in the crime. Both the prosecution and TrueAllele sought to suppress the technical information about how the software worked.
The company viewed it as proprietary information, but the court dismissed this argument, allowing the defense to examine the technology without publicly disclosing the software’s details.
Not the first time
Unfortunately, there had been previous cases where DNA evidence was flawed. One program called FST was found to have a secret function within the code where the prosecution could tip the evidence in their favor. The issue of DNA software with secret functions is now a national issue, which is good news for those prosecuted using this kind of evidence.
By evaluating the evidence on a case-by-case basis, defenses can prevent the use of false evidence. All convictions using FST, TrueAllele or other DNA software should be reviewed when DNA software was the deciding factor in a case. This, of course, upholds the sanctity of the criminal justice system.