Update: Signs that the apocalypse is upon us:
1) Just look outside;
2) Gloria Estefan is becoming a minority owner of the Dolphins.
Can the "Landshark-Sound Machine" Stadium naming ceremony be far away?
On with the show:
“No State shall . . . deprive any person of life, liberty, or
property, without due process of law.”*
U. S. Const., Amdt. 14, §1; accord Amdt. 5.
*(But the Supreme Court can....)
The dilemma is how to harness DNA’s power to prove innocence without unnecessarily overthrowing the established system of criminal justice.
Herewith for your consideration: Chief Justice Roberts, avowed statist:
the "power to prove innocence" balanced against "unnecessarily overthrowing the established system of criminal justice."
Which side of the "dilemma" did Roberts come down on? The "established system of criminal justice" of course. Statists side with the State. It's what they do.
Lord forbid Roberts should find that the overwhelming power to prove innocence was such a revolution in technology that it called for a "new system of criminal justice." A system which removed the propensity for error inherent in such unreliable evdience like eyewitness testimony.
Want more? You got it. Roberts admits that actual innocence may not entitle a convicted prisoner to relief. Huh? You read that right:
As a fallback, Osborne also obliquely relies on an asserted federal constitutional right to be released upon proof of “actual innocence.” Whether such a federal right
exists is an open question. We have struggled with it over the years, in some cases assuming, arguendo, that it exists while also noting the difficult questions such a right would
pose and the high standard any claimant would have to meet. (emphasis added.)
There you have it. Roberts the statist. The state's interest in preserving an "established system of criminal justice" trumps even the supposed reason for having a system of criminal justice: to protect the innocent and convict the guilty, with the priorities in that exact order.
In Roberts' world the trivial question of an innocent man or woman spending their life in prison pales before the important statist interest in keeping the gulag running smoothly. Call him a statist, call him and Scalia and Alito advocates for state's rights, but don't call them conservatives. They sacrifice the individual at the alter of the state just as readily as any marxist, they just couch their reasoning a bit differently.
Space does not permit it here, but you must read section II of Alito's concurrence, in which he essentially argues that new STR DNA testing is so sophisticated and accurate, that the sensitivities surrounding the accuracy make it.....unreliable. Yes, Alito somehow has written himself into a corner by arguing that the DNA test the Petitioner sought was so technologically sophisticated and thus so sensitive to contamination, as to make the results proof of nothing.
That's the best we can explain his views. As to why he has those views, one must wonder how hard he recently hit his head?
Stevens in dissent writes powerfully, simply and logically that nothing is lost and everything gained by letting a convicted prisoner pay for STR DNA analysis of crime scene evidence:
The State of Alaska possesses physical evidence that, if tested, will conclusively establish whether respondent William Osborne committed rape and attempted murder.
If he did, justice has been served by his conviction and sentence. If not, Osborne has needlessly spent decades behind bars while the true culprit has not been brought to
justice. The DNA test Osborne seeks is a simple one, its cost modest, and its results uniquely precise. Yet for reasons the State has been unable or unwilling to articu
late, it refuses to allow Osborne to test the evidence at his own expense and to thereby ascertain the truth once and for all.
And although this is a lengthy post, we cannot omit Stevens' reply to Alito's concurrence in FN 7 of his dissent:
JUSTICE ALITO provides a detailed discussion of dangers such as
oratory contamination and evidence tampering that may reduce the
reliability not only of DNA evidence, but of any type of physical forensic
evidence. Ante, at 3–10 (concurring opinion). While no form of testing
is error proof in every case, the degree to which DNA evidence has
become a foundational tool of law enforcement and prosecution is
indicative of the general reliability and probative power of such testing.
The fact that errors may occur in the testing process is not a ground for
refusing such testing altogether—were it so, such evidence should be
banned at trial no less than in postconviction proceedings. More
important still is the fact that the State now concedes there is no
reason to doubt that if STR and mtDNA testing yielded exculpatory
results in this case, Osborne’s innocence would be established.
There you have it. To 5 Justices on the Supreme Court, the criminal justice system has more important concerns than "actual innocence."
See you in court, actually fighting for actually innocent people.