The Matter of James E. Davis 869 N.Y.S.2d 99 involves the challenge to a petition for a compulsory accounting before the Kings County Surrogate by the estate’s administratrix. The administratrix took the position that the petitioner lacked standing to challenge the proceeding. In granting the petitioner’s motion, Surrogate Lopez-Torres directed the medical examiner to provide sufficient biological material to conduct genetic marker testing.
Upon the appeal of the administratrix, the Appellate Division reversed determining that the application of the petitioner lacked a description of "an open and notorious acknowledgment of paternity" by the decedent. The court also noted that the lower court’s order failed to provide sufficient safeguards to insure that any genetic material provided by the petitioner for testing actually came from the petitioner.
Your lawblogger finds two points of interest here. First is the requirement that any application for DNA tests in a proceeding to determine standing must include proof of the open and notorious acknowledgment by the decedent of the familial relationship claimed to have existed after death. Second is the extent to which modern day science now impacts virtually every aspect of our legal system. Since DNA and genetic marker testing may now be used in proceedings involving parties long-departed, the development of procedures to insure the integrity of the samples used in court proceedings becomes essentially important.