Study: Prosecutors resist DNA testing

May 18, 2009 at 7:39 AM

NEW YORK, May 18 (UPI) -- U.S. prosecutors are using new arguments to resist the use of DNA testing for convicted criminals who say the tests will clear them, research shows.

An analysis of 225 DNA exonerations by a University of Virginia professor showed that prosecutors resisted testing in almost one-fifth of cases, and in many they initially resisted but then allowed the testing, The New York Times reported Monday.

The report said that in opposing the testing prosecutors used new arguments to get around the intent of laws allowing DNA evidence to reopen old cases. For instance, they argued that eyewitnesses had identified the prisoner, so no DNA testing was needed; that juries convicted without DNA evidence; that the number of convicts cleared by DNA evidence was "insignificant," and that exculpatory DNA evidence wouldn't be enough to establish innocence, the newspaper reported.

Allowing DNA testing in long-decided cases undermines hard-won jury verdicts, prosecutors say, and is frequently used by convicts as a delay tactic.

Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project, told the Times most prosecutors no longer resist testing in cases where there is only one defendant, but still do in cases with multiple defendants.

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