The U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow will take a fresh look through the eyes of a condemned Tennessee man at a decade-old barrier between an inmate’s claim of innocence and federal court relief, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel. The court will examine the issue in the case of Paul Gregory House, on Tennessee’s death row for a 1985 murder of a 29-year-old woman. House hopes to convince the high court that proof of innocence, discovered years later, is strong enough to merit federal court relief despite the fact that he has largely exhausted his appeals.
The New York-based Innocence Project Inc. says in an amicus brief that the outcome will have far-reaching implications for convicts nationwide. DNA testing conducted more than a decade after House was convicted does not clear him of the murder; instead, it undermines the motive for his alleged crime. Semen stains on her underwear and nightgown discovered through DNA testing that the semen came not from House but the woman’s husband. By then, House had run out of appeals. The Innocence Project urges the court to set a new standard that recognizes that forensics used before DNA testing was available too often got it wrong.