Lawmakers in MD Request Law be Upheld that Allows for DNA Collection
According to a news report by The Baltimore Sun, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Maryland has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the state law that allows police to collect DNA samples from those arrested for violent crimes and some burglary crimes. The group of lawmakers, led by Montgomery County Del. Sam Arora, asserts that the law is a critical tool for law enforcement and should be reinstated as it has helped put rapists and other criminals behind bars. Presently, 18 others have signed the amicus brief, and Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler has also asked the Supreme Court to uphold the law.
The 2008 DNA collection law was overturned by the Maryland Court of Appeals in April when court judges agreed with civil liberties groups that argued that people are presumed innocent at the time of arrest. The groups also stated during the case that only a small fraction of law enforcement’s DNA collections lead to arrests; for example, more than 10,000 samples were collected in 2011, but only 19 people were arrested and even less were convicted as a result.
Supporters of the law have pointed to the case of Alonzo Jay King, Jr., who was arrested in 2009 on assault charges shortly after the law took place. The man’s DNA was collected, run through a database, and led to his conviction in an unsolved rape case from 2003.
The Sun report says that there may be reason to believe that the high court may be receptive to the point of view of Maryland lawmakers. In July, Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. called DNA collection “a valuable tool for investigating unsolved crimes” and stated there is a fair prospect that the court would overturn the Maryland Court of Appeals decision.
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