News 02.10.09

The Osborne Case: Amicus Brief from People Who Received Clemency Through Post-Conviction DNA Testing

This brief was filed by people who were exonerated when they were granted clemency based on DNA testing post-conviction. The brief notes that if they had been convicted in Alaska, “they could still be in prison today” and discusses the constitutional rights at stake when the innocent seek clemency. Prisoners who can demonstrate their innocence beyond dispute have a uniquely legitimate expectation that they actually will receive clemency. Not only have numerous individuals throughout history received pardons on innocence grounds, many have received clemency on the basis of DNA evidence. Amici are among these individuals. Their brief argues that denying a prisoner access to biological material that could decisively demonstrate his innocence deprives him of his liberty interest in obtaining clemency without due process of law.

The brief outlines the clemency process and the significance of DNA testing in many clemency proceedings. It argues that Alaska’s refusal to grant DNA testing in this case “flouts any possible sense of fair play” and is “perverse.” (Jeffrey L. Fisher at Stanford Law School’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic is counsel of record on the brief; the law firms of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld and Howe & Russell also worked on the brief.)

Following are the individuals who have received clemency through DNA testing who signed the brief:

Kenneth Adams, who was exonerated 18 years after being wrongfully convicted in Illinois for rape and murder; Marvin Anderson, who was exonerated 19 years after being wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in Virginia for robbery, forcible sodomy, abduction and two counts of rape; A.B. Butler, who was exonerated after almost 17 years in a Texas prison for aggravated kidnapping and rape; Kevin Byrd, who was exonerated 12 years after being wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in Texas for rape; Michael Evans, who was exonerated 26 years after being convicted in Illinois for a rape and murder he did not commit; Paula Gray, who was pardoned for innocence after serving nine years in prison in Illinois; Dana Holland, who was exonerated after serving 10 years of a 118-year sentence for two separate wrongful convictions for rape, armed robbery and attempted murder; Edward Honaker, who was exonerated after being wrongfully convicted in Virginia of seven counts of sexual assault and rape; Steven Linscott, who was exonerated after serving three years in prison and out on bond for seven years for a wrongful murder conviction in Illinois; Ben Salazar, who was exonerated five years after being wrongfully convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a pregnant woman; and Earl Washington, who was exonerated 16 years after being wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in Virginia. 

Download the full brief here



Other Amicus Briefs in the Case:

Current and Former Prosecutors


Crime Victims and Victim's Families

People Exonerated with Post-Conviction DNA Testing

Civil Liberties and Legal Rights Organizations

People Who Received Clemency Through Post-Conviction DNA Testing


More Legal Resources and Press Releases in the case



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