thorough hearings on the admissibility of DNA evidence, with two courts finding it admissible and one ruling it inadmissible.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont conducted a detailed analysis in United States v. Jakobetz.19 It reviewed the literature and FBI practices. Despite a strong attack from the defense and its experts, the court found that the DNA evidence was "highly reliable" and that its probative value outweighed the potential for prejudice.20 Strict application of the Frye test was rejected in accordance with Second Circuit standards.21
After a thorough hearing that focused on FBI protocols, the U.S. magistrate for the Southern District of Ohio in United States v. Yee22 also wrote a detailed analysis with conclusions essentially tracking those in the Vermont case. (Interestingly, an Arizona trial court considering the admissibility of DNA typing in State v. Despain23 carefully studied the transcript of Yee, but reached a conclusion opposite to it. That might have been because it also reviewed the transcript of another hearing in which four additional defense experts challenged FBI protocols. Finding that there was a legitimate scientific controversy as to the validity of DNA testing and that it had not gained general acceptance, the court in Despain refused to admit evidence analyzed by the FBI laboratory.)
Most recently, the Superior Court for the District of Columbia reached the opposite conclusion and held DNA typing inadmissible. In U.S. v. Porter24, the court ruled that the technical reliability of DNA typing was generally accepted, but that the FBI's method for calculating the probability of a coincidental match was not. The court ruled that the scientific foundation of these probability calculations bears on the admissibility (and not simply the weight) of the evidence. Applying the Frye standard, the court found that "there is a controversy within the scientific community [on this issue] which has generated further study, the results of which will soon be available for scrutiny. It is after these studies and others … when the court should be called upon to admit DNA evidence."
In addition, a number of state courts that apply analogues of the federal rules have considered the admissibility of DNA evidence. In Andrews v. State,25 a Florida court of appeals (the first higher-level state court to consider DNA evidence) determined that the relevance approach was applicable under the Florida evidence code that tracks the federal rules. The court admitted the evidence presented by the plaintiff's three scientific experts, two of whom worked for a private testing laboratory; the defense called no experts. The court concluded that the DNA typing evidence offered by the plaintiff was clearly helpful to the jury. With respect to the possibility of prejudice, the court found that DNA typing is not particularly "novel," in that it had been used in nonforensic applications for 10 years. The issue of differences between scientific applications and forensic applications were not raised by the defense. The court also noted the existence of specialized literature about the technique. As for the possibility of erroneous test re-