Secret Conviction Programs

42 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2019 Last revised: 5 Dec 2019

See all articles by Meghan J. Ryan

Meghan J. Ryan

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law

Date Written: November 30, 2019


Judges and juries across the country are convicting criminal defendants based on secret evidence. Although defendants have sought access to the details of this evidence—the results of computer programs and their underlying algorithms and source codes—judges have generally denied their requests. Instead, judges have prioritized the business interests of the for-profit companies that developed these “conviction programs” and which could lose market share if the secret algorithms and source codes on which the programs are based were exposed. This decision has jeopardized criminal defendants’ constitutional rights.

Keywords: convictions, algorithms, computers, programs, technology, science, source code, probabilistic genotyping systems, DNA, breathalyzers, fingerprints, automated fingerprint identification systems, trade secrets, due process, constitution, confrontation clause, Brady, Crawford, Chambers, Holmes,

Suggested Citation

Ryan, Meghan J., Secret Conviction Programs (November 30, 2019). Wash. & Lee L. Rev. (2020 Forthcoming) ; SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 454. Available at SSRN:

Meghan J. Ryan (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States


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