Supreme Court Allows Suit to Force DNA Testing of Evidence


ADAM LIPTAK
The New York Times
March 7, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday made it easier for inmates to sue for access to DNA evidence that could prove their innocence.

The legal issue in the case was tightly focused, and quite preliminary: Was Hank Skinner, a death row inmate in Texas, entitled to sue a prosecutor there under a federal civil rights law for refusing to allow testing of DNA evidence in his case? By a 6-to-3 vote, the court said yes, rejecting a line of lower-court decisions that had said the only proper procedural route for such challenges was a petition for habeas corpus.

In her opinion for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg emphasized how narrowly the court was ruling. Allowing Mr. Skinner to sue, she said, is not the same thing as saying he should win his suit.

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