The Ohio Supreme Court struck down a state law that allowed prosecutors to control which inmates requesting a DNA test in hopes of clearing their names were actually granted one, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Inmate advocates said the ruling probably means more prisoners will be granted the tests, and more could be found innocent and freed from prison. The unanimous court said Ohio’s three-year-old post-conviction DNA testing law essentially gave prosecutors judicial powers, which is unconstitutional.
Under the law, inmates who were convicted after pleading guilty rather than claiming innocence and losing at trial were largely discouraged from requesting a DNA test and unlikely to be granted one if they did ask. Now a larger pool of inmates, including those who pleaded guilty – for whatever reason – may now get a shot at a test, inmate advocates said. The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association said the ruling threatens to upset the judicial process because a uilty plea is typically made with the agreement of victims. “When we make a plea, we tell the victim when they take a plea that the case is over and it will never come back,” said John Murphy of the association. “Now, if we want to contest a test or if we want to give a guy a test who pleaded guilty, then we will likely have to call the victim back into this.”