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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, November 3, 2008

SCOTUS Grants Cert. in DNA Testing Case

In a case of obvious importance to the innocence movement, the U.S. Supreme Court today granted review in a case that raises the question whether 42 U.S.C. s. 1983 provides a cause of action to have DNA testing performed in order to prove actual innocence.  In District Attorney's Office v. Osborne, the respondent was convicted of rape, kidnapping, and related crimes.  He later attempted to have DNA testing performed on genetic materials found near the scene of the attack in order to prove his innocence but he was thwarted in his efforts in state court.  The question raised is whether section 1983 can be used essentially as a discovery device in order to support further litigation once the conviction has become final.  A subsidiary issue is the thorny question, likely to be dodged by the high Court once again, whether a freestanding innocence claim is cognizable under the Due Pocess Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Courtesy of Scotus Blog, you can read the petition for certiorari here, the brief in opposition here, the reply brief here, and the Ninth Circuit decision here. [Mike Mannheimer]

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