Thursday, August 9, 2018
The pertinent portion of Kansas's postconviction DNA testing statute, Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-2512(a), provides that a defendant can petition for postconviction DNA testing of biological material that
(1) Is related to the investigation or prosecution that resulted in the conviction;
(2) is in the actual or constructive possession of the state; and
(3) was not previously subjected to DNA testing, or can be subjected to retesting with new DNA techniques that provide a reasonable likelihood of more accurate and probative results.
So, where does that leave pleading defendants?
In finding that pleading defendants are entitled to seek testing under this law in State v. Smith, 119 P.3d 679 (Kan. App. 2005). the Court of Appeals of Kansas held that “[t]he legislature is perfectly capable of limiting such postconviction relief to those who pled not guilty or no contest to the material charges, and no such limitation appears in the text of the statute.” The court then noted that Kansas laws allow for pleas to be set aside under some circumstances; therefore, “[b]ecause such a plea is not necessarily irrevocable, it would be inconsistent with the broad legislative goal if DNA testing was unavailable solely because a guilty plea was entered.”