Washington, D.C. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether prison inmates have a constitutional right to obtain the testing of old DNA evidence that might set them free.
In the past decade, DNA evidence has convicted many defendants and freed many others. Forty-four states, along with the District of Columbia, have adopted laws that give prisoners a right to seek the testing of DNA evidence in the government's files.
The court voted to take up a case from Alaska, one of the six states that do not give inmates this right. Along with a second man, William G. Osborne was convicted of kidnapping, rape and assault in an attack on a prostitute outside Anchorage in 1993. His lawyer did not seek the testing of a condom found near the scene.
After his conviction, Osborne sued to obtain testing of the condom. State lawyers opposed the motion, but in April, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Osborne has a right to have the material tested because it might prove his innocence.