Join the Discussion: The Struggle for DNA Access


A story in the New York Times today examines the cases of several prisoners who have met with resistance from prosecutors and judges in obtaining DNA testing that could prove their innocence. Innocence Project client Kenneth Reed has been in Louisiana’s Angola prison for 17 years for a rape he has always said he didn’t commit. DNA testing could prove his innocence, but prosecutors have resisted his appeals – saying he was identified by witnesses and convicted by a jury so doesn’t have the right to DNA testing.

In Mr. Reed’s case in East Baton Rouge Parish, the district attorney who first prosecuted the case and now his successor, Hillar C. Moore III, have appealed every DNA-related ruling in Mr. Reed’s favor and objected to even a hearing on the matter.

They have argued that Mr. Reed’s identity was not an issue in the trial because he was identified by (witnesses), even though DNA evidence has repeatedly contradicted eyewitness identifications. They have argued that there was no way of knowing whether the evidence would yield a usable DNA profile — a question that would be settled by testing it.

…(Innocence Project Staff Attorney) Nina Morrison … said: “The one thing I’ve learned in doing this for seven years is there’s no reason to guess or speculate. You can just do the test.”

Read the full story here and join the discussion on the New York Times website

. (New York Times, 05/18/09)

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