News 05.08.09

Friday Roundup: Seeking DNA Testing

A Texas man is seeking DNA testing in a three-decade-old case and there are renewed calls on prosecutors and crime labs across the country to conduct testing in tens of thousands of backlogged cases. Below are a few stories from around the U.S. this week on wrongful convictions, forensic science and life after exoneration:

A 61-year-old Houston man is

continuing his fight for DNA testing

that he says can prove him innocent of a rape he was convicted of in 1981. Donald Burke served 18 years in Texas prisons and was released more than 10 years ago.

Thirty-eight people have been exonerated in Texas to date by DNA testing, more than any other state. And

a bill improving compensation for the wrongfully convicted

after their release appeared close to passing the Texas legislature yesterday. A final vote is expected soon.

The ABA Journal called on prosecutors and state officials across the country to

commit resources to clearing backlogs of untested evidence

. Testing this evidence can help solve cold cases, apprehend repeat offenders and exonerate the wrongfully convicted.

An article in ProPublica questioned whether there is

a connection between the growth of government DNA databases and the firms that produce testing equipment

.

More news from Mississippi this week. A

county is considering hiring Dr. Stephen Hayne

, a medical examiner who has been widely discredited and whose faulty findings

contributed to at least two wrongful convictions

.

Mississippi hasn’t had a state medical examiner since the mid-1990’s and many counties in the state relied on Hayne for years to conduct autopsies. He was removed from the list of approved pathologists nearly a year ago after his role in wrongful convictions was uncovered. Despite concerted efforts from state officials to hire a new medical examiner,

that process has stalled

.

We report some of these stories on twitter throughout the week as they happen. If you’re on twitter, follow us @

innocenceblog

. We’ll follow you back.

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