« Ind. Decisions - "Avon law to control groundwater invalid" | Main | Courts - Have you ever wondered whether to use "pleaded" or "pled"? »

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Courts - "Does Routinely Sampling DNA From Arrested Felons Violate The Fourth Amendment? "

Sherry F. Colb, law prof at Cornell Law, writes Nov. 10, 2010 for Findlaw.com on the issue of routinely sampling the DNA of people who have not been tried and convicted of an offense. The long article concludes:

What makes this case special may ultimately have less to do with the presumption of innocence than with the treasure trove of information that is contained in a small sample of DNA. Unlike ordinary searches, in which the main intrusion occurs at the time of initial surveillance, a DNA sampling -- as Judge Cercone correctly observes -- has the potential to make large quantities of personal information about someone available to the government long after the sampling takes place.

In this sense, DNA squarely raises the issue of informational privacy, rather than spatial privacy, precisely because the physical taking of DNA is not very different from the physical taking of fingerprints (and may indeed be, or shortly become, an entirely nonintrusive collection of discarded biological material).

When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit decides this case, it will accordingly have the opportunity to consider the relatively undeveloped and critical issue of whether, sometimes, the mining of information from materials already in the government's possession might constitute the invasion of a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 14, 2010 08:11 PM
Posted to Courts in general