Wolf Greenfield Secures Pro Bono Victory for The Innocence Project

On behalf of The Innocence Project, Wolf Greenfield helped secure an important ruling in a New Jersey appellate court that safeguards the Constitutional rights of criminal defendants to meaningfully examine computer software that the prosecution seeks to use to prove guilt. The Innocence Project, as amicus, asked Wolf Greenfield to represent them on appeal due to the firm’s extensive experience with source code analysis and familiarity with source code protection practices in litigation.

In State v. Pickett, the prosecution used “probabilistic genotyping” software called TrueAllele to match a defendant’s DNA to a murder scene. The defense sought to analyze the source code to determine whether it had errors that could have led to a false result (as has occurred with similar software). TrueAllele's manufacturer refused to allow access to the code unless defense counsel signed an onerous NDA (waiving certain rights to assess and use the code in key ways and imposing huge liability for even inadvertent disclosures). The trial court refused to compel production of the source code.

Wolf Greenfield’s brief explained how source code often has errors, even if the underlying algorithms are correct, such that defendants need a fair opportunity to analyze the code. The Wolf Greenfield team also compared TrueAllele's proposed access terms to protective orders used in patent cases where billions of dollars are at stake, to show how unreasonable the proposed terms were.

The appellate court adopted Wolf Greenfield’s arguments and ordered the trial court to compel production of the code under terms Wolf Greenfield had suggested, resting heavily on the arguments in the firm’s brief.

This case was featured in Law360. Read more (subscription required).