Monday, January 11, 2010

Wendy Murphy and DNA - tell me what you think

we need more DNA lab folk/testers in kansas,
our labs are far behind in what prosecutors need. We need more money allocated to the KBI and others for good timely evidence collection. This i know from speaking with prosecutos over the past few years.  Here (following) is another aspect of DNA testing: let me know what you think.
This column also speaks to the clever way criminals have learned to use the system. Our political correctness now precludes common sense in dealing with convicted monsters. yes, i know there are mistakes or corruption, but as you know if you've ever watched in court, the overwhelming majority of trials which result in guilty verdicts do so becasue there is no reasonable doubt; the evidence is overwhelming. MANY guilty people are set free due to our system; a miniscule few innnocent are convicted. (don't get me wrong; that is a true horror, for another day)

By Wendy J. Murphy For the Patriot Ledger January 16, 2010
"In crazy Massachusetts where convicted murderers have the right to demand that tax dollars be used to pay for things like sex change therapies and better inflated basketballs in prison, it should come as no surprise that criminal defense attorney-lawmakers are once again endeavoring to indulge their own ideologies and the ridiculous demands of their private clients, in total disregard for public safety, fiscal responsibility and the rights and needs of innocent citizens.
House Bill #1618 would require taxpayers to pay for convicted criminals to obtain expensive DNA tests at anytime – even if guilt has been confirmed by appellate courts, and regardless of whether the tests have zero chance of proving actual innocence.
Pressure has been mounting to get this bill passed - but some lawmakers are skittish – as well they should be - for at least two reasons.

First, unlike the law in other states, the proposal in Massachusetts would require DNA testing without a showing that the results could prove "actual innocence", which means the bill would require the expenditure of public funds for expensive testing even if evidence of guilt is overwhelming.

Second, legislation isn't necessary because Massachusetts is one of a few states where the law is already very generous to criminals such that prosecutors and judges routinely allow post-conviction DNA testing without specific legislation requiring them to do so. A criminal can challenge his conviction as many times as he wants simply by filing a “new trial motion” and pointing to "newly discovered evidence". The development of new technology that unveils new information about old evidence satisfies this “newly discovered evidence” standard, which is why, for example, notorious convicted rapist Ben Laguer was allowed to demand new DNA tests on old evidence many years after he had exhausted his regular appeals.

In 1983, Laguer repeatedly raped a woman (a neighbor in his apartment complex) over the course of eight hours, and left her for dead. The victim survived but because Laguer blindfolded her, she couldn’t specifically identify him as her attacker. Evidence at the time included samples of biological material from the victim’s body, but DNA technology hadn’t yet been developed. Other forensic tests were available, so cops went to the jail where Laguer was being held and swabbed a Q-tip inside his mouth, then sent the sample for comparison testing. The sample did not match, which might have been a problem for the prosecution except that it turned out Laguer had borrowed a bunch of spit from a neighboring prisoner at the jail in order to contaminate the test. That he was so worried about his own sample being tested was powerful evidence of guilt. Alongside other circumstantial evidence tying Laguer to the crime, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. His conviction was upheld on appeal.

Years later, after DNA technology was developed, Laguer filed motions to force the prosecutor to conduct new tests on evidence from the victim’s body. Even without House Bill #1618, Laguer got what he wanted and DNA tests were done. To the surprise of only a few, the results came back a match and Laguer’s guilt was confirmed. Good news for the victim’s family for sure, but the important point is that even if the tests had been negative, they wouldn’t have proved Laguer’s “actual innocence” because the victim might have had consensual sexual contact with someone else in the days before the attack. She was dead by the time DNA tests were conducted so she couldn’t have explained the presence of another man’s DNA. This fact alone might have persuaded a judge to order a new trial – not on the grounds of “actual innocence” but simply because if DNA technology had been around in 1983, a non-match would have been admissible (if misleading) given the nature of the victim’s body as the “crime scene” and because most judges would (but shouldn’t) see such evidence as presumptively relevant.

Taxpayers should not bear the financial burden of enabling all convicted criminals to demand similar expensive DNA tests. The fact that Laguer’s tactics were such a colossal waste of time and resources is all lawmakers need to vote no on House Bill #1618.
If the bill is rewritten to require defendants to demonstrate that DNA tests, if successful, will establish "actual innocence", it deserves our support. No truly innocent individual should stay in prison for a crime he did not commit. But House Bill #1618 is designed to facilitate the release of far more “actually guilty” than “actually innocent” criminals, which makes no economic sense and threatens to undermine the integrity of a legal system that should care more about uncovering truth than financing legal shenanigans."

No comments:

Post a Comment