Judge rules felons have right to DNA testing
April 17, 2001
Web posted at: 3:09 AM EDT (0709 GMT)
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (AP) -- A federal judge ruled that felons have a
constitutional right to DNA testing and ordered Virginia authorities
to allow the tests for a convicted rapist who claims he's innocent.
U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. said the Fairfax County
prosecutor violated the civil rights of James Harvey by refusing to
allow tests on evidence left from Harvey's 1990 rape and sodomy
The decision, which offers felons another avenue into federal courts
through civil rights litigation, is believed to be the first of its
kind in the country.
"Denying the plaintiff access to potentially powerful exculpatory
evidence would result in ... a miscarriage of justice," Bryan wrote
in his opinion Monday.
DNA testing has exonerated more than 80 people nationwide, but
inmates in most states must depend on the goodwill of prosecutors for
access to evidence that might prove their innocence.
About damned time.
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