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District Attorney's Office v. Osborne

Court Type: U.S. Supreme Court
Status: Closed (Judgment)
Last Update: February 2, 2009

What's at Stake

Whether it violates due process to imprison someone who is actually innocent, and whether an inmate has a post-conviction right to obtain DNA evidence in the government’s possession that could establish his innocence with total certainty. DECIDED

The defendant was convicted of rape based, in part, on DNA evidence introduced at trial by the prosecution. Testing methods at the time, however, were relatively crude. Years after his conviction, defendant requested access to the DNA evidence so that it could be retested using more sophisticated techniques that had been developed. In its amicus brief, the ACLU argues that the Constitution bars the state from imprisoning someone who is actually innocent, even assuming the trial was otherwise fair, and that the state has an obligation to turn over DNA evidence upon request because of its unique capacity to establish actual innocence.

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