Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Constitutional Right to DNA Testing

The United States Supreme Court will hear argument on an Innocence Project case in March.

‘Our Constitution gives every citizen the right to prove that he’s innocent,’ says Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld, who will argue the case at the Supreme Court in March

In a brief filed yesterday at the U.S. Supreme Court, the Innocence Project argues that prisoners have the constitutional right to DNA testing that can prove their innocence. The court will hear oral arguments on March 2 in the case of Innocence Project client William Osborne, who was convicted in 1993 in Alaska of a rape he says he didn’t commit. Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld will argue on Osborne’s behalf.
“The issue in this case is whether a state can deny a prisoner access to DNA testing that was not available at the time of trial and has the potential to prove his innocence,” Neufeld said. “In the vast majority of cases, prisoners are granted DNA testing under state law or because prosecutors consent to testing without a court order. Alaska is the exception. It is the only state in the nation with no known case of a prisoner receiving DNA testing, either through court order or a prosecutor’s consent. This case involves a very important constitutional protection – one that is the only option for William Osborne.”
A decision is expected in June.

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