Friday, June 19, 2009

Supreme Court Rules That There Is No Constitutional Right To DNA Testing

Wow. In the case of District Attorney's Office for the Third Judicial District v. Osborne, our Supreme Court has held that 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." William Osborne was convicted in Alaska in 1993 for a crime that DNA testing could prove he didn't commit. Alaska has arbitrarily refused Osborne’s requests for DNA testing for years – even though the testing would be performed at no cost to the state, and the state now concedes that DNA testing could prove his innocence. On June 18, the court ruled 5-4 that his constitutional rights were not violated by the state’s denial of testing.

Peter Neufeld of the Innocence Project, who argued Osborne's case before the court, said the decision will mean that "more innocent people will languish in prison" because they lack the legal right to DNA testing. He's right.

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