The Supreme Court has ruled that any request for DNA evidence by a death row inmate denied by the prosecution represents a valid Civil Rights action in federal courts, according to a recent decision.
Part of the problem is that unlike 42 other states in the Union, Alabama does not have a law requiring post-conviction DNA testing. The decision on whether to order testing is now left up to the state’s governor. Alabama is not only one of the few states in the country that does not provide any statutory right to post-conviction DNA testing, it is the ONLY state that does not provide an attorney for death row inmates during post-conviction appeals.
Back in 2009, Alabama’s then-Republican Governor Bob Riley indicated he was not interested in granting the opportunity for DNA testing in the case of death row inmate Thomas Arthur, so I wrote an editorial and sent it via e-mail to the governor’s office. He did grant a stay until the Supreme Court made it’s decision on DNA testing and Civil Rights, so this most likely helped save Tommy Artur’s life that day. The editorial ran under the provocative headline:
Learn more about this case from the non-profit Innocence Project.
© 2011 – 2015, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.