Legal Aid Lawyers Challenge New York's Use of Familial DNA testing


NY DAILY NEWS |Legal Aid Lawyers Challenge New York's Use of Familial DNA testing

By Graham Rayman

Legal aid attorneys who believe the state overstepped its powers in granting police the right to use familial DNA to solve crimes will file a lawsuit Friday challenging the policy, the Daily News has learned.

The Legal Aid Society litigators charge that the state Division of Criminal Justice Services and two forensic panels had no authority to approve statewide use of the controversial technique.

They argue that decision should have been reserved for the state Legislature.

The technique, known as “familial DNA searching” uses genetic material found at crime scenes to see if a relative of a convicted offender in the state’s DNA databank might be a suspect.

The state’s greenlight to police was “an abuse of discretion, arbitrary and capricious,” the plaintiffs argue.

“This is dangerous,” said David Loftis, Legal Aid’s head of forensic litigation. “It’s an end-run around the legislative branch. Clearly there’s a racial bias to who is policed. Innocent people, largely poor and in communities of color, will now become a suspect group of folks.”

Lt. John Grimpel, a NYPD spokesman, disagreed.