« Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 0 today (and 6 NFP) | Main | Law - "Shudder speed: Rise of the stealthy traffic camera fuels drivers' disgust" »

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Courts - More on: "Prosecutors in Manhattan — aware that the legal clock for bringing a case was running out — devised the novel strategy of indicting the rapist’s DNA"

Updating this Oct. 19th ILB entry, this issue is now before the California Supreme Court, according to a story today by Mike McKee of The Recorder. Some quotes from the story about Tuesday's oral arguments:

At issue in People v. Robinson , S158528, is whether an unknown suspect's DNA profile -- as opposed to a physical description -- can satisfy the so-called particularity requirement for issuing a "John Doe" warrant, and whether such warrants toll the statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges.

A third issue is whether the unlawful collection of a blood sample violates the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

[Cara] DeVito represented Paul Robinson, an alleged serial rapist found guilty of an August 1994 assault on a Sacramento woman who wasn't sure of his race and had only a vague physical description.

Four days before the six-year statute of limitations for filing charges expired on Aug. 25, 2000, prosecutors filed a "John Doe" complaint describing the then-unknown defendant from a DNA profile developed from semen at the assault site. The next day, an arrest warrant was issued, tied to the DNA profile.

The warrant for Robinson's arrest was executed three weeks later based on a match from the state's DNA databank.

The defense argued that a DNA profile lacked the statutory requirement that a warrant contain "sufficient descriptive material" -- such as race, height, body build -- to indicate "with reasonable particularity" the identification of the proposed arrestee.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Peter Mering disagreed, as did Sacramento's 3rd District Court of Appeal in 2007.

The California Supreme Court appears headed for a similar outcome, with most of the justices, particularly Carol Corrigan, Ming Chin and Marvin Baxter, seemingly OK with a warrant based on a DNA profile.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 5, 2009 12:15 PM
Posted to Courts in general