Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Project DNA: Hawai'i
The pertinent portion of Hawai'is postconviction DNA testing statute, Haw. Rev. Stat. § 844D-121, provides in relevant part that:
Notwithstanding any other law or rule of court governing post-conviction relief to the contrary, a person who was convicted of and sentenced for a crime, or acquitted of a crime on the ground of physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect excluding responsibility, may file a motion, at any time, for DNA analysis of any evidence that:
(1) Is in the custody or control of a police department, prosecuting attorney, laboratory, or court;
(2) Is related to the investigation or prosecution that resulted in the judgment of conviction or of acquittal of a crime on the ground of physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect excluding responsibility; and
(3) May contain biological evidence.
So, where does that leave pleading defendants?
Hawai’i’s statute is possibly the most liberal postconviction DNA testing statute in the country. It contains (1) no statute of limitations; (2) no limitation on the types of convictions that allow for testing; and (3) the lenient requirement that the defendant must merely establish that the evidence to be tested is related to the investigation or prosecution of the case. It also has no language limiting its scope to defendants convicted after trials. Therefore, pleading defendants should be able to seek postconviction DNA testing in Hawai'i.