FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Indicting DNA

Not content to solve the crimes being perpetrated in the here and now, New York City prosecutors announced that they will begin seeking indictments against DNA sequences found at crime scenes. Then, using tens of thousands of DNA samples taken from convicted felons, police will try to match the DNA of the convicts with DNA evidence taken from victims or crime scenes.

The stautute of limitations–the time within which felony prosecutions must be brought–is 10 years in New York. By seeking grand jury indictments against DNA, the statute of limitations will be “tolled,” or stopped.

At this moment in history, people tend to think of DNA evidence as infallible. Like the fingerprints of yesterday, which current scientific evidence is proving to be less than the unassailable proof jurors have been led to believe it is, there is DNA evidence and there is DNA evidence. The “proof” that is DNA depends on the quality of the sample and the expertise–and honesty–of the scientists performing the analysis. Last year we learned of at least two state forensic examiners who testified falsely about DNA analyses (saying there was a match when they knew there was none) or who conducted and interpreted DNA analyses without the requisite degree of skill and training. Innocent people were convicted based on their flawed testimony. Some may have been executed.

But there is a bigger problem with this plan. There is a reason for statutes of limitations. The longer a case goes without being heard, the less likely victims and witnesses will have an accurate recall of alleged crimes. Memories will also have faded for the accused and their burden of producing evidence to disprove their guilt (I hope none of my readers persist in believing in the presumption of innocence) will be insurmountable. How well do you remember what you did on any day or night 10 years ago? Actually, the case could be brought to trial 20, 30, 40 years from now under the prosecutor’s plans.

Lawrence S. Goldman, the past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said that with the passage of time, it becomes harder and harder to defend against criminal cases. “It is extremely difficult to defend a crime after many years,” he said. “I would rather the city spend its efforts on people who are sitting in prison and make sure the DNA matches,” he said.

Why is it that it is so hard to get a DNA test for a man on death row and so easy to get an indictment of a DNA sample? Because the American system of criminal injustice is far more interested in convicting someone– guilty or not–than in sparing the life of one person wrongfully convicted.

The criminal system is already a disgrace in its politically correct promotion of victim’s “rights” at the expense of defendants’ Constitutional guarantees and fairness. The Supreme Court has said repeatedly that it does not care that innocent people may be convicted. But that does not mean that states need to follow that despicable principle.

Some day, some state could do the right thing. It is not likely to be New York.

ELAINE CASSEL practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia, teachers law and psychology, and follows the Bush regime’s dismantling of the Constitution at Civil Liberties Watch. She can be reached at: ecassel1@cox.net

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
Gary Leupp
MSNBC and the Next Election: Racism is the Issue (and Don’t Talk about Socialism)
R. G. Davis
Paul Krassner: Investigative Satirist
Negin Owliaei
Red State Rip Off: Cutting Worker Pay by $1.5 Billion
Christopher Brauchli
The Side of Trump We Rarely See
Curtis Johnson
The Unbroken Line: From Slavery to the El Paso Shooting
Jesse Jackson
End Endless War and Bring Peace to Korea
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: What About a New City Center?
Tracey L. Rogers
Candidates Need a Moral Vision
Nicky Reid
I Was a Red Flag Kid
John Kendall Hawkins
The Sixties Victory Lap in an Empty Arena
Stephen Cooper
Tony Chin’s Unstoppable, Historic Career in Music
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bruno Latour’s Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime
Elizabeth Keyes
Haiku Fighting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail