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leekohler
Jun 18, 2009, 12:39 PM
Reporting from Washington - The Supreme Court said today that DNA possesses a unique ability to free the innocent and convict the guilty, but the justices nonetheless ruled that prisoners do not have a constitutional right to demand DNA testing of evidence that remains in police files.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court's conservative bloc agreed to stand back and allow states to work out the rules for new testing of old crime samples.

Already, 47 states and the federal government have enacted laws or rules that allow prisoners under some circumstances to obtain DNA tests, the high court said.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the majority saw no need for "a freestanding and far-reaching constitutional right of access to this type of evidence." Upholding such a new right "would take the development of rules and procedures in this area of out of the hands of legislatures and state courts shaping policy in a focused manner and turn it over to federal courts," he said.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-na-court-dna19-2009jun19,0,3774749.story


Can someone please explain to me how the right to defend yourself isn't constitutional? :eek::confused: I'm really lost here.

maestro55
Jun 18, 2009, 01:24 PM
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-na-court-dna19-2009jun19,0,3774749.story


Can someone please explain to me how the right to defend yourself isn't constitutional? :eek::confused: I'm really lost here.

I certainly can't explain. This seems to me like a no-brainier. The guys lawyer messed up by not seeking DNA testing so according to Alaska law he is supposed to be punished for a crime he might not have committed because he failed to get DNA testing before he was sentenced? The big problem here is the supreme court is trying to give the power to the states and that power gives Alaska the right to not serve justice.

leekohler
Jun 18, 2009, 01:35 PM
I certainly can't explain. This seems to me like a no-brainier. The guys lawyer messed up by not seeking DNA testing so according to Alaska law he is supposed to be punished for a crime he might not have committed because he failed to get DNA testing before he was sentenced? The big problem here is the supreme court is trying to give the power to the states and that power gives Alaska the right to not serve justice.

It's crazy to me. This reeks of money and egos to me- and lawyers and judges protecting their own.

No1451
Jun 18, 2009, 01:46 PM
Justice really is a joke isn't it?

leekohler
Jun 18, 2009, 01:50 PM
Justice really is a joke isn't it?

This might rank as one of the most frightening things I've seen happen in this country during my life time. I just find it unbelievable.

mkrishnan
Jun 18, 2009, 01:56 PM
This might rank as one of the most frightening things I've seen happen in this country during my life time. I just find it unbelievable.

I think this is alongside the traditional stance that the Supreme Court has upheld for many years that provides justices far-reaching immunity from any kind of consequences of their inappropriate actions. That itself is a big problem. To me, in a just society, the people who uphold the law should be held to the highest standards of complying with the law -- not the lowest. But the courts have been very resistant to holding themselves (or often the executive branch) accountable.

This is a really bad ruling, especially alongside the continuing insistence by many states on capital punishment. DNA is not fool-proof nor should it be the only way crimes are evaluated. However, the data conclusively shows that a significant portion of these pre-DNA capital crimes cases, in particular, were judged incorrectly as a result of the forensic limitations.

We should not be trying to prevent those individuals who were wrongly imprisoned from getting their freedom back. We should be helping them and admitting our arguably understandable societal mistake.

Rodimus Prime
Jun 18, 2009, 02:32 PM
Well I do not see a problem there in what the court stated.

DNA should be a tool but problems can come in if the DNA information is messy or just did not get the right part at the crime. Plus some times requesting a DNA test is nothing more than a delay and a huge waste of money.

Why should money be wasted on a DNA test when everything else points to the person who did it.

leekohler
Jun 18, 2009, 02:34 PM
Well I do not see a problem there in what the court stated.

DNA should be a tool but problems can come in if the DNA information is messy or just did not get the right part at the crime. Plus some times requesting a DNA test is nothing more than a delay and a huge waste of money.

Why should money be wasted on a DNA test when everything else points to the person who did it.

Wow- I'm gonna let someone else answer this one! :eek:

fivepoint
Jun 18, 2009, 02:38 PM
It's crazy to me. This reeks of money and egos to me- and lawyers and judges protecting their own.

Read the constitution. This is a simple case of federal vs. state rights and the role of the courts. Justice Roberts is exactly right:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the majority saw no need for "a freestanding and far-reaching constitutional right of access to this type of evidence." Upholding such a new right "would take the development of rules and procedures in this area of out of the hands of legislatures and state courts shaping policy in a focused manner and turn it over to federal courts," he said.

Had they sided the other way, they would be essentially rewriting the constitution and redefining the role of the federal government and federal court system. This type of issue is up to the states to decide. LOTS of things are. The founders intended it that way for a REASON.

mkrishnan
Jun 18, 2009, 02:43 PM
Had they sided the other way, they would be essentially rewriting the constitution and redefining the role of the federal government and federal court system.

The only problem with this argument is that the SC routinely does exactly that. I mean, I understand you're not saying this, but it's a very convenient position, isn't it? "It's a States' Right issue when it's something liberals want. It's perfectly valid for the Supreme Court to decide when it's something that conservatives want."

leekohler
Jun 18, 2009, 02:46 PM
The only problem with this argument is that the SC routinely does exactly that. I mean, I understand you're not saying this, but it's a very convenient position, isn't it? "It's a States' Right issue when it's something liberals want. It's perfectly valid for the Supreme Court to decide when it's something that conservatives want."

I don't see this as liberal vs conservative. And how can this not fall under "due process"? Seems to me this is all covered in the Bill of Rights.

fivepoint
Jun 18, 2009, 02:50 PM
The only problem with this argument is that the SC routinely does exactly that. I mean, I understand you're not saying this, but it's a very convenient position, isn't it? "It's a States' Right issue when it's something liberals want. It's perfectly valid for the Supreme Court to decide when it's something that conservatives want."

Thank you for saying that "I'm not saying this", because you're right... I'm not. And I don't think Justice Roberts is either. This line of thinking applies to all issues. It has nothing to do with politics, and it shouldn't. The federal government and federal judiciary has overstepped its bounds too many times on too many issues, both liberal and conservative. I don't support any of them.

States rights are exactly that... and they've unfortunately been trampled ever since the inception of the United States.

Now, if you're asking whether I personally think that DNA evidence should be used whenever possbile, the answer is a resounding yes. Every prisoner deserves due process and a complete defense. However, the specifics of how that is accomplished is for states to decide on their own, as laid out by the constitution. Not the federal government.

leekohler
Jun 18, 2009, 02:55 PM
Thank you for saying that "I'm not saying this", because you're right... I'm not. And I don't think Justice Roberts is either. This line of thinking applies to all issues. It has nothing to do with politics, and it shouldn't. The federal government and federal judiciary has overstepped its bounds too many times on too many issues, both liberal and conservative. I don't support any of them.

States rights are exactly that... and they've unfortunately been trampled ever since the inception of the United States.

Please explain to me how disallowing evidence is a good thing to leave up to individual states.

CorvusCamenarum
Jun 18, 2009, 02:57 PM
There's another article on the story here (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090618/ap_on_go_su_co/us_supreme_court_dna_testing;_ylt=Aqo.xjObuhgS1MlUnpaEHiMDW7oF) that sheds some interesting light left out of the OP's link.

The woman, who is white, identified Osborne, who is black, as one of her attackers. Another man also convicted in the attack has repeatedly incriminated him. Osborne himself described the assault in detail when he admitted his guilt under oath to the parole board in 2004.
So he admitted he did it (possibly to get parole?), and now says he didn't do it.

Osborne's lawyer passed up advanced DNA testing at the time of his trial, fearing it could conclusively link him to the crime. A less-refined test by the state showed that the semen did not belong to other suspects but could be from Osborne, as well as about 15 percent of all African-American men.
It seems as though he had his chance to bring it up at trial. If it wasn't him, the testing would show such. Then again, never ask a question to which you don't already know the answer, at least not in open court.

leekohler
Jun 18, 2009, 03:00 PM
There's another article on the story here (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090618/ap_on_go_su_co/us_supreme_court_dna_testing;_ylt=Aqo.xjObuhgS1MlUnpaEHiMDW7oF) that sheds some interesting light left out of the OP's link.


So he admitted he did it (possibly to get parole?), and now says he didn't do it.


Never ask a question to which you don't already know the answer, at least not in open court.

That isn't the issue at hand. The issue is whether or not individual states can deny the use of DNA evidence.

fivepoint
Jun 18, 2009, 03:03 PM
Please explain to me how disallowing evidence is a good thing to leave up to individual states.

That's just the thing, Lee... and discussion after discussion on this issue (state vs. federal) you continue to miss the entire point.

It doesn't matter WHAT I THINK or what you think about disallowing evidence, or any issue for that matter. It doesn't matter what your opinion is, it doesn't matter what Justice Roberts' opinion is. The argument is whether or not the federal judiciary has the RIGHT, the CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY to make those kinds of decisions.

Bottom line, they don't! The Constitution of the United States is very explicit as to which powers are given to each branch of the government. Those powers which are not listed are delegated to each individual state.

It doesn't matter that you think it should be a universal decision decided upon by the the Supreme Court. It doesn't matter if it's the simplest most obvious idea and it's amazing that every single state isn't already featuring the same law.

fivepoint
Jun 18, 2009, 03:06 PM
BTW, if you disagree with these constitutional authorities, then fine... believe me, you aren't the only one! What you need to do is support a constitutional amendment to get it changed. Don't support justices and legislators who are 'ok' with simply skirting around the issue and finding ridiculous loopholes. (hello interstate clause and general welfare)

The constitution provides for it's own updates and changes over the years. Instead of doing it right through an amendment, we simply say 'screw it, that's hard, let's find a way around this'.

leekohler
Jun 18, 2009, 03:14 PM
That's just the thing, Lee... and discussion after discussion on this issue (state vs. federal) you continue to miss the entire point.

It doesn't matter WHAT I THINK or what you think about disallowing evidence, or any issue for that matter. It doesn't matter what your opinion is, it doesn't matter what Justice Roberts' opinion is. The argument is whether or not the federal judiciary has the RIGHT, the CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY to make those kinds of decisions.

Bottom line, they don't! The Constitution of the United States is very explicit as to which powers are given to each branch of the government. Those powers which are not listed are delegated to each individual state.

It doesn't matter that you think it should be a universal decision decided upon by the the Supreme Court. It doesn't matter if it's the simplest most obvious idea and it's amazing that every single state isn't already featuring the same law.

And how does this not fall under "due process"? You still haven't explained that.

fivepoint
Jun 18, 2009, 03:27 PM
And how does this not fall under "due process"? You still haven't explained that.

I'm no legal expert, Lee. But here's a good place to start:
Private citizens are covered and tried under their own state laws.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Due_process
The Fifth Amendment guarantee of due process is applicable only to actions of the federal government. The Fourteenth Amendment contains virtually the same phrase, but expressly applied to the states. Therefore, those two clauses only apply against state actors, and not against private citizens. The Supreme Court has interpreted those two clauses identically, as Justice Felix Frankfurter once explained in a concurring opinion: “To suppose that ‘due process of law’ meant one thing in the Fifth Amendment and another in the Fourteenth is too frivolous to require elaborate rejection.”[21]
The due process clause applies to "legal persons" (that is, corporate personhood) as well as to individuals. Many state constitutions also have their own guarantees of due process (or the equivalent) that may, by their own terms or by the interpretation of that State's judiciary, extend even more protection to certain individuals than under federal law.


Each state is charged with creating it's own laws and running their own judicial system to maintain those laws. They all define their own due process. If the federal government were to come in and say that they were going to scrap the state constitutions and define for themselves what due process and other laws were going to be in individual states, that would be a gross overstepping of their constitutional bounds.

Unfortunately, this doesn't mean very much to some people. They like to think the ends justify the means, but it never does because then the constitution becomes worthless... not worth the paper it was... penned on.

leekohler
Jun 18, 2009, 03:31 PM
I'm no legal expert, Lee. But here's a good place to start:
Private citizens are covered and tried under their own state laws.




Each state is charged with creating it's own laws and running their own judicial system to maintain those laws. They all define their own due process. If the federal government were to come in and say that they were going to scrap the state constitutions and define for themselves what due process and other laws were going to be in individual states, that would be a gross overstepping of their constitutional bounds.

Unfortunately, this doesn't mean very much to some people. They like to think the ends justify the means, but it never does because then the constitution becomes worthless... not worth the paper it was... penned on.

That's not how I read that. It looks like "due process" means the same thing for states and the fed, with the states being able to add more protections if they so choose, not deny them.

CorvusCamenarum
Jun 18, 2009, 03:49 PM
That isn't the issue at hand. The issue is whether or not individual states can deny the use of DNA evidence.

The defendant had the opportunity to introduce DNA evidence at his original trial; he elected not to do so. If he had tried to introduce it then and was denied, then I could grant your point. But I fail to see why in this case the state of Alaska should be compelled to grant him a legal mulligan.

This isn't a case of new evidence surfacing long afterward, it's been sitting in an evidence locker somewhere since the early 80s.

leekohler
Jun 18, 2009, 04:07 PM
The defendant had the opportunity to introduce DNA evidence at his original trial; he elected not to do so. If he had tried to introduce it then and was denied, then I could grant your point. But I fail to see why in this case the state of Alaska should be compelled to grant him a legal mulligan.

This isn't a case of new evidence surfacing long afterward, it's been sitting in an evidence locker somewhere since the early 80s.

I guess I don't see a difference here.

mkrishnan
Jun 18, 2009, 04:09 PM
The defendant had the opportunity to introduce DNA evidence at his original trial; he elected not to do so. If he had tried to introduce it then and was denied, then I could grant your point. But I fail to see why in this case the state of Alaska should be compelled to grant him a legal mulligan.

This isn't a case of new evidence surfacing long afterward, it's been sitting in an evidence locker somewhere since the early 80s.

Now I get to play the not-a-legal expert card, but is it not a longstanding principle that defense errors at the time of trial cannot be used to prevent postconviction appeals? Even the majority opinion in this case recognizes the principle that the postconviction liberty-based process is appropriate.

CorvusCamenarum
Jun 18, 2009, 04:25 PM
Now I get to play the not-a-legal expert card, but is it not a longstanding principle that defense errors at the time of trial cannot be used to prevent postconviction appeals? Even the majority opinion in this case recognizes the principle that the postconviction liberty-based process is appropriate.

The article to which I linked stated that the defense elected not to test the condom to the point that it would conclusively identify or exclude the defendant for fear it would convict him. I wouldn't call that an error per se but a tactic that obviously went awry. If it was an error, then why was there no appeal based on ineffective counsel? The information we have doesn't speak to that point.

The point I'm raising which Lee seems to have trouble with is that the defense has had the chance to introduce this evidence once before. Since they declined the first time, why should they get a do-over now, and after the defendant has admitted his guilt?

NT1440
Jun 18, 2009, 04:27 PM
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-na-court-dna19-2009jun19,0,3774749.story


Can someone please explain to me how the right to defend yourself isn't constitutional? :eek::confused: I'm really lost here.

Let me take a whack at it, I bet it has something to do with money. "Itll be too costly!".

:rolleyes: Total ********

leekohler
Jun 18, 2009, 04:31 PM
The article to which I linked stated that the defense elected not to test the condom to the point that it would conclusively identify or exclude the defendant for fear it would convict him. I wouldn't call that an error per se but a tactic that obviously went awry. If it was an error, then why was there no appeal based on ineffective counsel? The information we have doesn't speak to that point.

The point I'm raising which Lee seems to have trouble with is that the defense has had the chance to introduce this evidence once before. Since they declined the first time, why should they get a do-over now, and after the defendant has admitted his guilt?

Plenty of people who admit guilt are not, in fact, guilty.

CorvusCamenarum
Jun 18, 2009, 05:26 PM
Plenty of people who admit guilt are not, in fact, guilty.

So he's a liar, then. He either lied when he said he didn't do it, or he lied when he admitted it, arguably to get paroled. This guy's credibility is rapidly approaching zero. Or should we give him a take-back on one of his statements?

leekohler
Jun 18, 2009, 05:27 PM
So he's a liar, then. He either lied when he said he didn't do it, or he lied when he admitted it, arguably to get paroled. This guy's credibility is rapidly approaching zero.

Umm...people have been coerced into confessions plenty of times. It happens probably more than we would like to think.

CorvusCamenarum
Jun 18, 2009, 05:38 PM
Umm...people have been coerced into confessions plenty of times. It happens probably more than we would like to think.

Osborne himself described the assault in detail when he admitted his guilt under oath to the parole board in 2004.
Does the parole board use rubber hoses? If he was coerced as you seem to suggest, why isn't he shouting for all to hear that he was coerced? Or are you just unwilling to entertain the notion that he's trying to wiggle his way out of his conviction?

Gelfin
Jun 18, 2009, 06:23 PM
Does the parole board use rubber hoses?

"Mr. Camenarum, if I may be candid for a moment, we would very much like to entertain your parole request, as your behavior in this facility has been generally exemplary, but some of my colleagues are deeply concerned about your persistence in challenging your original conviction. We have all reviewed the evidence, and there is no question in anyone's mind that the state reached a proper conclusion. Your obstinate attitude is frankly coming across as unrepentant. If I may offer you a bit of free advice, the choice before you is pretty simple: You can stick to your story and of course you will be free to pursue all the appeal avenues open to you, or you can make an effort to demonstrate to the parole board that you have reformed and maybe get to go criticize the finer points of the state justice system at home with your family instead."

I don't know enough to take a firm stance about the particular case this ruling references, but in general rubber hoses are far from necessary to elicit a false confession.

leekohler
Jun 18, 2009, 06:37 PM
Does the parole board use rubber hoses? If he was coerced as you seem to suggest, why isn't he shouting for all to hear that he was coerced? Or are you just unwilling to entertain the notion that he's trying to wiggle his way out of his conviction?

Of course. But DNA evidence is hardly the way to "wiggle out of his conviction". That's just kind of silly, don't you think?

CalBoy
Jun 18, 2009, 06:56 PM
Of course. But DNA evidence is hardly the way to "wiggle out of his conviction". That's just kind of silly, don't you think?

Well, yes and no.

I personally don't agree with this decision because I think it's ultimately unwise, but I think there is a certain amount of judicial economy behind it.

The Court isn't saying that no one has the right to challenge their conviction with new DNA evidence after the fact, what it's really saying is, if you opted for the less clear option at trial, you have to live with it.

I think that the defense attorney deserves some serious investigation in this case. He allowed his client to be classified using a DNA test that is less than stellar (the jury is even more to blame here-apparently 12% of the African-American population matched the defendant under the parameters of this limited test).

To a certain extent, what the Court's majority said is true; allowing every defendant who makes a strategic error at trial to have a second round is just not wise. Even more significant (I think) is that this only applies to 4 states; the other 46 have some method for convicted individuals to challenge their conviction based on new DNA testing.

mkrishnan
Jun 18, 2009, 06:58 PM
Of course. But DNA evidence is hardly the way to "wiggle out of his conviction". That's just kind of silly, don't you think?

I certainly hate it when prisoners wiggle out of their confessions by proving that their role in the crime was physically impossible. :o

EDIT: I think Calboy's post is exactly the problem with federalism... how can we say, meh 46 states do the right thing, sorry you live in one of the wrong states? It's one thing when 46 states do the right thing and one has to pay excessive taxes because one lives in one of the remaining states. It's another when one is in prison for a crime one potentially did not commit but does not get exonerated because one lives in the wrong state.

CalBoy
Jun 18, 2009, 07:21 PM
EDIT: I think Calboy's post is exactly the problem with federalism... how can we say, meh 46 states do the right thing, sorry you live in one of the wrong states?

Who's to say it is necessarily the wrong thing though? ;)

From a neutral standpoint, there is no fundamental right to challenge one's conviction post-trial. At least, there is no explicit right written into the Federal Constitution. It is our sense of justice and good practice that has led the vast majority of states to impose such rules.

From a biased standpoint, it is the job of the Court to say what the law is, and occasionally to correct its short comings by saying what the law needs to be to live up to its obligations. This is one of those cases. In order to meet our evolving standards of justice and due process, individuals need to be able to use new DNA evidence in their efforts of exoneration.

However, in the end, this is one of the prices we pay for federalism. It is still an advantage however, because without federalism, justice would not have been able to march along one state at at time to the point where convicted individuals can petition for new evidentiary hearings in 46 states.

Rodimus Prime
Jun 19, 2009, 12:24 AM
I was listening to this on NPR and my take on it is they SC was very clear that this was a states right issue. ANd like other have said and the SC stated an error on the defense account is not a reason to go back and use it.
The SC does not want to set a rule on how long after a case the police must keep the evidence on storage as that is a policy and a states decision. In saying it was a right they would have to set that.

the SC also pointed out that they are not in that department and their for it is states policy to do so.

Shivetya
Jun 19, 2009, 07:22 AM
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-na-court-dna19-2009jun19,0,3774749.story


Can someone please explain to me how the right to defend yourself isn't constitutional? :eek::confused: I'm really lost here.


I will, the Supreme Court has ruled that it is up to the states to determine when and what evidence is applicable. In other words, the SC is not denying that DNA evidence can be used, it just stating it is not a right to demand it.

opinioncircle
Jun 19, 2009, 08:08 AM
I will, the Supreme Court has ruled that it is up to the states to determine when and what evidence is applicable. In other words, the SC is not denying that DNA evidence can be used, it just stating it is not a right to demand it.

But how will they determine what kind of evidence they deem reliable enough? I mean it's a very strong issue, since judges and courts are obviously working in different ways all across the country...

Rodimus Prime
Jun 19, 2009, 08:22 AM
Also remember the SC is making it clear that it a state right to determine how it should be done and appeal process for state violation and it is not in the position to determine how long evidence should be kept by the police.

Also I am going to point out that the case a state law and not federal.

Lets assume they ruled that it is a right. Now how long are states to keep the evidence on file. 1 year 2 years after the case and so on. Remember quite a bit of evidence does get given back to the people it belong to afterwards.

Shivetya
Jun 19, 2009, 08:38 AM
But how will they determine what kind of evidence they deem reliable enough? I mean it's a very strong issue, since judges and courts are obviously working in different ways all across the country...

That is why they will allow the states to decide it. Just because some people think DNA is the end all designator of guilt or innocence doesn't make it so. Do not buy into sensationalized stories where it actually worked to turn over a conviction. They are far and few between. What usually occurs is that the defendant puts off conviction by having a good lawyer argue into the dirt for every test and delay they can.