DNA access for convicted limited

Discussion in 'US Law for Jabrones' started by DamnYankee, Jun 20, 2009.

  1. DamnYankee
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    DamnYankee No Neg Policy

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    Court Limits Access to DNA Evidence
    Justices Rule That Inmates Lack Constitutional Right to Testing
    By Robert Barnes
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, June 19, 2009



    Prisoners do not have a constitutional right to DNA testing after their conviction, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday, even though the technology provides an "unparalleled ability both to exonerate the wrongly convicted and to identify the guilty."

    In the court's first examination of how to treat the rapidly evolving field of biological testing, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for a majority that said it is up to the states and Congress to decide who has a right to testing that might prove innocence long after conviction.

    The "challenges DNA technology poses to our criminal justice systems and our traditional notions of finality" are better left to elected officials than federal judges, Roberts wrote for the majority in a 5 to 4 decision.

    "To suddenly constitutionalize this area would short-circuit what looks to be a prompt and considered legislative response," he wrote.




    The case at hand comes from Alaska, one of three states without a law allowing post-conviction access to biological evidence.

    William G. Osborne was convicted of the brutal rape and assault of a prostitute in a secluded area near Anchorage International Airport in 1993. Osborne wanted to pay for a more discerning test of semen found in a condom at the crime scene, a test prosecutors agreed would almost definitively prove his guilt or innocence. But prosecutors refused to allow it, and Alaska courts agreed that Osborne did not qualify under the procedures they had established.

    Osborne appealed to the federal courts, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco recognized a right to such testing under the due-process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

    But Roberts, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., said that was wrongly decided. "A criminal defendant proved guilty after a fair trial does not have the same liberty interests as a free man," he wrote, and thus states have more "flexibility" in deciding procedures for post-conviction relief.

    The majority said Alaska's procedures seemed sufficient and there was no reason for federal courts to "leap ahead" of the states.

    washingtonpost.com
     
  2. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    disgusting...

    not surprising.
     
  3. alan1
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    alan1 USMB Mod Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Sounds like a person better pay for that testing before or during the trial then.
     
  4. DamnYankee
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    DamnYankee No Neg Policy

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    Now there's an excellent point.

    Why on earth would the defense omit THAT little piece of evidence if the goal is to PREVENT A CONVICTION?
     
  5. JBeukema
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    JBeukema BANNED

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    unsettling...
     
  6. alan1
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    alan1 USMB Mod Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I was wondering the exact same thing. What kind of dime-store attorney did he have?
     
  7. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    more likely that the DNA was inconclusive and the technology improved.

    doesn't matter, though. if there's a possiblity that an innocent man is in jail or waiting to be executed, then i'd think it's incumbant upon us to take all reasonable precautions.

    and it's a lot cheaper to run the test than keep them in jail or kill them.
     
  8. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    whatever newbie, underpaid, overworked, legal aid attorney was assigned to him given that the court has also said that a defendant has the right to an attorney, but not to the attorney of their choice.
     
  9. DamnYankee
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    DamnYankee No Neg Policy

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    I don't buy it. Inconclusive? And improved technology?

    Since the advent of DNA testing in 1985, biological material (skin, hair, blood and other bodily fluids) has emerged as the most reliable physical evidence at a crime scene, particularly those involving sexual assaults. DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, contains the complex genetic blueprint that distinguishes each person. Forensic testing can determine if distinctive patterns in the genetic material found at a crime scene matches the DNA in a potential perpetrator with better than 99% accuracy. In 1987, Florida rapist Tommie Lee Andrews became the first person in the U.S. to be convicted as a result of DNA evidence; he was sentenced to 22 years behind bars. The next year, a Virginia killer dubbed the "South Side Strangler" was sentenced to death after DNA linked him to several rapes and murders around Richmond. DNA is also responsible for snaring Gary Ridgway, the infamous "Green River Killer" of Washington State, responsible for a string of murders around Seattle in the 1980s and '90s. After being implicated by genetic testing, Ridgway pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 48 consecutive life sentences. Law-enforcement agencies around the world are assembling DNA databases, which have yielded matches that investigators may otherwise have missed. The FBI now has DNA records on more than 5 million convicted offenders, and sex offenders in all 50 states are required to submit DNA samples to law enforcement.
    A Brief History of DNA Testing - TIME
     
  10. alan1
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    alan1 USMB Mod Staff Member Supporting Member

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    It may have improved some, but it's been pretty accurate since the 80's

    I agree. Would you agree that DNA evidence is conclusive enough to warrant the death penalty in some cases?

    Killing them is not expensive, it's all the appeals and court costs that are, but that's an entirely different argument.
     

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