Landmark Ruling in DNA Case; NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner DNA Testing Does Not Meet Frye Standard of General Acceptance

Today, in a landmark ruling, Justice Mark Dwyer of New York Supreme Court, Kings County, held that the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s (OCME) Low Copy Number (aka High Sensitivity) DNA testing as well as OCME’s Forensic Statistical Tool (FST) do not meet the Frye standard of general acceptance in the relevant scientific community. Justice Dwyer’s ruling marks the conclusion of two years of litigation by lawyers from The Legal Aid Society of New York City.

A team of lawyers from The Society, spearheaded by Jessica Goldthwaite, Clinton Hughes, Susan Friedman, Daniel Ades, Karen Faraguna, and Susan Morris mounted a historic challenge by presenting testimony from internationally renowned experts in the field of forensic DNA testing. The experts testifying for the defense included Dr. Bruce Budowle, former veteran senior scientist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Dr. Ranajit Chakraborty, who was instrumental in developing the national DNA database system, and Dr. Eli Shapiro, a former supervisor at the OCME. Justice Dwyer’s decision relies on the extensive, unparalleled factual record established over the course of the hearing which commenced in 2012 and has far-reaching implications for the admissibility of the OCME’s controversial testing methodologies in criminal cases throughout the city.