Osborne case has interested onlookers

DNA TESTING: Several groups have filed briefs on issue.

February 7, 2009 

BACKING THE STATE OF ALASKA

• Thirty one states

Argument: A ruling for convicted rapist William Osborne undermines their laws on DNA testing and interferes with the finality of state criminal proceedings.

• The United States

Argument: "There is no tradition in this country of granting convicted criminals post-conviction access to the prosecution's evidence locker, whether for DNA testing, fingerprint analysis, or other purposes. And constitutional rights do not spring into existence simply because science has advanced."

• The victim in the rape case and the National Crime Victim Law Institute

Argument: A defendant should only be allowed to do a DNA test post-conviction if they file a sworn statement of "actual innocence;" the test "must be conducted in a fashion that protects the victim's dignity and privacy."

Also supporting the state:

•The city of New York

• A group composed of the Council of State Governments, the National Association of Counties and the International Municipal Lawyers Association

BACKING THE INNOCENCE PROJECT

• A group of current and former prosecutors

Argument: Some existing laws allowing the testing are too restrictive. Letting prosecutors decide can lead to injustice. One-fifth of the post-conviction DNA exonerations nationwide occurred despite strong opposition to testing by prosecutors. It's cheaper to just do the test than fight in court about it.

• 10 exonerated people

Argument: Testing should be done even when the evidence seems overwhelming. One example: Christopher Ochoa, who confessed to a 1989 rape and murder at a Pizza Hut in Austin, Texas, to avoid the death penalty. He got life. Years later, the real killer confessed after a religious conversion. DNA testing confirmed it. Ochoa got out and became a lawyer.

• Seven crime victims or their relatives

Argument: One victim testified against a man she was sure had raped her but testing proved otherwise. Another's husband spent seven years in prison after he was wrongly convicted of raping and killing her mother and raping her niece. A convicted rapist claimed his was a case of mistaken identity, but DNA testing confirmed it was him.

Also supporting The Innocence Project:

• 11 people who received clemency after DNA testing

• A group composed of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Rutherford Institute and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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