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Supreme Court to hear fight over taking DNA from arrested people

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Can you imagine the horror of the father Jerry Hobbs, whose 8 year girl was raped and murdered — and were that not enough torture, for the father to then sit in prison falsely accused and wrongfully convicted of being the sick f#@* who did this to his own little daughter?! Thank God for the DNA technology that proved his innocence and set him free and thankfully nailed the real scum bag marine (Jorge Torrez) who did this to Jerry’s little girl — along with two other girls we now know of … So, as a Ft. Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer, of course I object to taking saliva samples and securing DNA from folks who haven’t even been convicted of anything — just for being arrested; BUT, I take leave of my better senses for our liberties, and give this one to law enforcement, right or wrong, BECAUSE it was this very procedure and protocol that nailed the twisted scum called Torrez, the demonic sicko who did this, and it was this same protocol that freed an innocent father who must have suffered extreme torture and cruelty of the worst kind, sitting in prison falsely convicted of raping and murdering his own precious little girl. Check this out:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-court-dna-20130203,0,4970458.story

Supreme Court to hear fight over taking DNA from arrested people

The Supreme Court will hear a privacy rights challenge to the police practice of taking DNA from people arrested but not yet convicted.

By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
10:12 PM PST, February 2, 2013

WASHINGTON — On a cold February night three years ago, police in suburban Arlington, Va., received a frantic call. A young woman said her roommate had been abducted at gunpoint by a short, clean-shaven man who sped away in a silver SUV.

At dawn, a motorist spotted the victim in a snowy field near a highway, raped and strangled, but alive. An alert officer, hearing the lookout report, recalled that he’d jotted down the license tag of a silver Dodge Durango whose driver lurked near bars at midnight, leading to the quick arrest of a short, clean-shaven Marine named Jorge Torrez.

Ten years ago, Virginia became the first state to require, upon arrest for a serious crime, a mouth swab for DNA. The sample from Torrez, sent to a state crime lab and entered into the FBI’s DNA database, confirmed he was the rapist. A few weeks later a DNA match also led to charges against him in the rape and murder of two girls, ages 8 and 9, in Zion, Ill., where Torrez had gone to high school. Jerry Hobbs, the father of one of the girls, had been in prison for the crimes.

This month, the U.S. Supreme Court will take up a privacy rights challenge to taking DNA from people who are arrested. The case could either end the practice or make it the norm nationwide.

Arlington County Deputy Police Chief Daniel Murray says the Torrez case shows the value of taking DNA when someone is arrested for a serious crime. “It’s extremely important to quickly identify someone who would be a danger to society if he were on the loose,” he said. And in this instance, he said, the DNA match freed an innocent man.

Nationwide, DNA samples are taken from people who are convicted of violent crimes.

Going further, the federal government and 28 states, including California, Illinois and Florida, now take DNA samples from some or all who are arrested but not yet convicted of serious crimes. Besides taking fingerprints, the standard jail booking now often includes taking a DNA swab, which prosecutors say is as simple and painless as brushing your teeth.

Last month, President Obama signed into law the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act, which will help pay the start-up costs for other states to begin testing people who are arrested.

“The whole purpose of this is to find serial rapists and murderers and to get them early to save innocent lives,” said Jayann Sepich, a New Mexico mother whose daughter Katie was raped and murdered. Her attacker was arrested several times, but he was not identified until he was convicted of another crime and his DNA was taken.

California prosecutors say arrests for nonviolent crimes, including drug offenses, credit card fraud and burglary, have led them to rapists and murderers, thanks to DNA tests.

But the constitutionality of taking DNA upon arrest remains in doubt, particularly when it is not needed to identify the suspect. For example, police do not need DNA to identify someone who is caught with drugs or breaking into a house.

A state appeals court in San Francisco and a federal judge in Sacramento ruled it was unconstitutional to require a DNA sample from someone who had been arrested but not convicted. The California Supreme Court and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals have put the issue on hold pending a ruling from U.S. Supreme Court.

The justices will hear the case of Maryland vs. King to decide whether requiring DNA from someone taken into custody but not convicted is an “unreasonable search” forbidden by the 4th Amendment.

In 2009, Alonzo King from Salisbury, Md., was arrested for waving a shotgun in a threatening manner. That was a felony charge, calling for a DNA test. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge for which no DNA test was required. But the DNA sample taken upon arrest pointed to him as the man who had broken into a house and raped a woman six years earlier. King was convicted and given a life term.

But Maryland’s high court threw out his conviction and ruled police may not take DNA without a search warrant and some reason to believe the suspect had committed another offense. “DNA samples contain a massive amount of deeply personal information,” far more than a fingerprint, the state judges said.

Civil liberties advocates have urged the court to hold the line and to bar DNA searches until someone has been convicted.

“This could be an unprecedented expansion of search power. The rule has been the government has to have a specific suspicion before they search,” said Erin Murphy, a DNA law expert at New York University. “If you are arrested for a drug crime, that doesn’t mean the police can walk into your house looking for evidence of other crimes.”

But victims rights groups, the Obama administration and the top state attorneys from California and 48 other states have urged the court to rule that routine DNA testing upon arrest is reasonable and constitutional. They say the mouth swab is a minor invasion of privacy at most and that it has an extraordinary potential for solving heinous crimes.

david.savage@latimes.com

Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times

 

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About the Author:

John M. Castellano is a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney who has helped thousands of clients throughout Florida. While building a reputation as a premiere Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney, Mr. Castellano has worked tirelessly to develop strategies to best protect the rights of those arrested for DUI in Broward, Dade and West Palm. However, Mr. Castellano is not just a drunk driving lawyer. He has been a successful domestic violence attorney, drug trafficking attorney, as well as all other Felony and Misdemeanor cases.

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