Tuesday, October 2, 2018
The pertinent portion of Tennessee's postconviction DNA testing statute, Tenn. Code Crim. Pro. Section 40-30-305, states that a petition for postconviction DNA testing must
After notice to the prosecution and an opportunity to respond, the court may order DNA analysis if it finds that:
(1) A reasonable probability exists that analysis of the evidence will produce DNA results that would have rendered the petitioner's verdict or sentence more favorable if the results had been available at the proceeding leading to the judgment of conviction;
(2) The evidence is still in existence and in such a condition that DNA analysis may be conducted;
(3) The evidence was never previously subjected to DNA analysis, or was not subjected to the analysis that is now requested which could resolve an issue not resolved by previous analysis; and
(4) The application for analysis is made for the purpose of demonstrating innocence and not to unreasonably delay the execution of sentence or administration of justice.
So, where does that leave pleading defendants?
Tennessee's statute seems pretty open ended. It doesn't reference a trial or identity being in issue. Instead, it references "the proceeding leading to the judgment of conviction." This would seem to include a plea proceeding. Therefore, it seems likely that pleading defendants can seek postconviction DNA testing in Tennessee.