Thursday, September 6, 2018
The pertinent portion of New Jersey's postconviction DNA testing statute, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:84A-32a(1)(a), states that:
(1) The motion shall be verified by the convicted person under penalty of perjury and shall do all of the following:
(a) explain why the identity of the defendant was a significant issue in the case.
So, where does that leave pleading defendants?
The language of New Jersey's statute doesn't explicitly address pleading defendants. That said, in states with "identity in issue" clauses, courts have generally found that pleading defendants cannot seek postconviction DNA testing. Moreover, in State v. Morales, No. 05-04-1576, 2017 WL 3648541 (N.J. App., Aug. 25, 2017), the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division found that a defendant who had pleaded guilty had failed to establish that his identity was a significant issue in the case. The court, however, did not explain whether this conclusion was categorical or based upon the facts of the case.