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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Editorial Concerning Alabama's Refusal to Order DNA Testing Before Executing a Man Who Claims Innocence

birminghamnews.com:  The Birmingham News recently ran an editorial discussing state of Alabama's refusal to order DNA testing before executing a Death Row inmate who claims to be innocent. Here is an excerpt:

homas Arthur may absolutely be guilty of a 1982 murder for which he was sentenced to death. Arthur emphatically claims he is not; a jury concluded he was.

The truth is, there's at least some evidence to suggest guilt and other evidence that makes you wonder. Unfortunately, the jury that decided Arthur's fate didn't have the luxury of DNA testing that might have helped them sort through the complicated facts of the case.

Had the technology existed at the time of his trial, surely DNA tests would have been conducted on the evidence, which includes hair and semen. It's routinely used now on the front end of criminal cases to confirm guilt or to eliminate suspects.

It boggles the mind, then, that the state of Alabama won't order DNA tests before proceeding to execute Arthur on Dec. 6.

True, the U.S. Supreme Court this week denied Arthur's legal bid for DNA testing. But the courts are bound by legal timelines and rules. We may not always like those constraints, but at least we can see the reasoning behind the decision.

Gov. Bob Riley is under no such rules. He can order DNA testing in this case, and there's no good reason for him not to do it. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2007/12/editorial-conce.html

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