CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"An End to DNA Test Waivers?"

Jonathan Adler has the post over at The Volokh Conspiracy, approving the reexamination of a Bush Administration policy that required some defendants to waive their rights to DNA testing as part of plea deals. An article in the Washington Post discusses this "little-known" policy. After noting the argument that such testing for federal convicts has been rare, the article continues:

But DNA experts say that's about to change because more sophisticated testing will soon bring biological evidence into federal courtrooms for a wider variety of crimes. Defense lawyers who have worked on DNA appeals strongly oppose the waivers, saying that innocent people sometimes plead guilty -- mainly to get lighter sentences -- and that denying them the ability to prove their innocence violates a fundamental right. One quarter of the 243 people exonerated by DNA had falsely confessed to crimes they didn't commit, and 16 of them pleaded guilty.

"It's a mean-spirited policy. Truth, ascertained by science, should trump the finality of a conviction," said Peter Neufeld, co-director of the New York-based Innocence Project. He said the waivers are effectively "gutting the impact" of the 2004 law because 97 percent of federal convictions result from guilty pleas.

Bookmark and Share

| Permalink


Post a comment