Defense legal teams now have even easier access to STRmix™ software following updates to STRmix Ltd.’s Defense Access Policy.
Attorneys, scientists, and expert witnesses have had access to a time-limited version of the STRmix™ software, as well as its source code, developmental validation records, user’s manuals and extended output since 2016.
The updated Access Policy now includes definitions of the extended items that can be provided under the policy, as well as updated non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) relating to the policy. The policy also includes an abbreviated NDA for use in some specific circumstances.
STRmix™ is sophisticated forensic software that can be used by forensic scientists to resolve mixed DNA profiles which previously were thought to be too complex to interpret.
In addition to access, all of the algorithms for STRmix™ have been published in peer reviewed literature. The software “has also been extensively validated to ensure robust scrutiny and acceptance by the scientific community,” according to John Buckleton DSc, FRSNZ, Forensic Scientist at the New Zealand Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) and one of the developers of STRmix™.
STRmix™ has achieved Certificate of Networthiness (CoN) status on the U.S. Army Network and validation by the FBI, published in FSI: Genetics. The FBI validation notes that STRmix™ offers numerous advantages over historical methods of DNA profile analysis and has greater statistical power for estimating evidentiary weight, all of which can be used reliably in human identification testing.
Noting that questions about access to STRmix™ source code occasionally have arisen in criminal cases as the software has gained widespread acceptance in forensic labs around the world, Buckleton explains, “While access to the source code is typically what is requested, STRmix™ is actually best tested by using empirical testing or examining its extended output, which contains the intermediate steps of the STRmix™ interpretation process, allowing individual forensic labs, attorneys, or experts to verify the accuracy of STRmix™.”
Since its introduction in 2012, STRmix™ has been used to interpret DNA evidence in more than 120,000 cases around the world. It has also been used successfully in numerous U.S. court cases, including 28 successful admissibility hearings.
STRmix™ is currently being used by forensic labs at 46 U.S. agencies – including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) – and is in various stages of installation, validation, and training in more than another 60 U.S. labs. Internationally, it is being used by nearly two dozen forensic labs in Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, Finland, Dubai, Denmark, and Canada.
According to Buckleton, forensic labs have turned to STRmix™ “because it greatly improves the usability of DNA to produce evidence in a wide range of criminal cases.” He notes that agencies using STRmix™ are reporting an increase of interpretable DNA in gun cases from about 40% to more than 70%. STRmix™ is also proving to be highly effective in delivering a significantly higher rate of interpretable results in sexual assault cases.
A new version of STRmix™, STRmix™ v2.7, was introduced in September. Building on previous versions of the software, STRmix™ v2.7 includes several new features – including the addition of a variable number of contributors (varNOC) for multi-kits and the ability to compare two or more DNA mixtures to find a common contributor – in direct response to recommendations for improvements made by forensic labs to better address the on-the-job needs they regularly encounter.
For more information about STRmix™ and specific details about the updated Defense Access Policy, non-disclosure agreements, and STRmix™ software license agreement, visit STRmix Homepage.