Supreme Court rules DNA tests for prisoners not a constitutional right

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by leekohler, Jun 18, 2009.

  1. macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #1
    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.
     
  2. macrumors 68030

    maestro55

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2005
    Location:
    Goat Farm in Meridian, TX
    #2
    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.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #3
    It's crazy to me. This reeks of money and egos to me- and lawyers and judges protecting their own.
     
  4. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Location:
    Ottawa, ON
  5. thread starter macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #5
    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.
     
  6. Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #6
    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.
     
  7. macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    #7
    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.
     
  8. thread starter macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #8
    Wow- I'm gonna let someone else answer this one! :eek:
     
  9. macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #9
    Read the constitution. This is a simple case of federal vs. state rights and the role of the courts. Justice Roberts is exactly right:

    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.
     
  10. Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #10
    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."
     
  11. thread starter macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #11
    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.
     
  12. macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #12
    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.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #13
    Please explain to me how disallowing evidence is a good thing to leave up to individual states.
     
  14. macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2004
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    #14
    There's another article on the story here 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.

    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.
     
  15. thread starter macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #15
    That isn't the issue at hand. The issue is whether or not individual states can deny the use of DNA evidence.
     
  16. macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #16
    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.
     
  17. macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #17
    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'.
     
  18. thread starter macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #18
    And how does this not fall under "due process"? You still haven't explained that.
     
  19. macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #19
    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.
     
  20. thread starter macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #20
    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.
     
  21. macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2004
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    #21
    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.
     
  22. thread starter macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #22
    I guess I don't see a difference here.
     
  23. Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #23
    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.
     
  24. macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2004
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    #24
    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?
     
  25. macrumors G3

    NT1440

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hartford, CT
    #25

Share This Page