U.S. Supreme Court: no federal right to review DNA evidence

June 20, 2009 | By | Reply More

Here’s the context: 240 convicted felons have now been proven to be totally innocent thanks to analysis of DNA evidence.  Many states have enacted laws giving prisoners the opportunity to obtain DNA analysis of critical evidence used at their trials in years past.   The U.S. Supreme Court has now ruled, however, that there is no federal constitutional right to DNA evidence that could exculpate a convict.

The Supreme Court said Thursday that a convicted rapist has no constitutional right to test biological evidence used at his trial in Alaska years earlier, leaving it to the states to decide when prisoners get access to genetic evidence that might prove their innocence . . .

Dissenting liberal justices and advocates for prisoners who seek genetic testing complained that the court is penalizing a small group of inmates who lack access to a simple test that would conclusively show their innocence, or reaffirm their guilt.

Here is the full opinion, District Attorney’s Office v. Osborne.   Justice John Roberts (supported by the Court’s conservatives) wrote the majority opinion, concluding both of the following:

A) “DNA testing has an unparalleled ability both to exonerate the wrongly convicted and to identify the guilty.”   and

B) If you were convicted in one of the handful of states that aren’t willing to analyze the DNA evidence of your case, you’re screwed.  Case over.  Too bad for you.  Why?  Because it would mean more work for  the federal judiciary.

Way to go, Justice Roberts.  You are compiling quite a track record of refusing to look out for the oppressed and powerless.   And see here and here.

For more information, visit Project Innocent.


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Category: Civil Rights, Law, law and order

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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