Court To Reconsider Case On Convict DNA Samples


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has agreed to a Bush administration request to reconsider a ruling that voided a law requiring federal parolees to give blood for a DNA databank used to investigate crimes. The 2-1 panel decision in October said the law violated the constitutional ban on unreasonable searches because it required that blood be extracted from parolees not suspected of committing new crimes.

A majority of the court’s 26 active judges voted to set aside the ruling and hear the case again before an 11-judge panel, says the San Francisco Chronicle. The 2000 law requires federal inmates convicted of serious crimes and those on parole to give blood for a databank of genetic material maintained by the FBI. The law was challenged by Thomas Kincade, who pleaded guilty to bank robbery in Los Angeles in 1993, was paroled from prison in 2000 and refused an order to give blood for a DNA sample in March 2002.

The appeals court’s initial ruling, if upheld, could be used to overturn similar laws in every state. It’s unclear whether a ban on involuntary blood extraction would affect prosecutions based on evidence from the DNA databank. Authorities have used DNA tests to solve thousands of cases. It has also been used to exonerate prisoners, including some from death rows.


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