Tags: dna | supreme | court | maryland

Md. Might Seek High Court Review of DNA Ruling

Wednesday, 02 May 2012 12:14 PM

By Greg McDonald

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Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is threatening to take a recent court ruling blocking the collection of DNA samples when someone is arrested for a violent crime or burglary all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. 
 
“All this ruling does is allow people to get away with very, very serious crimes,” Gansler said in an interview Tuesday with the Baltimore Sun. “The reasoning by the Court of Appeals doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to people.”
 
Gansler on Tuesday asked the Maryland Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision blocking the collection of DNA samples, except in cases where people are actually convicted of crimes. If it doesn’t, Gansler wrote in a six-page motion filed with the court, his office would ask the Supreme Court to weigh in.
 
According to law enforcement officials, taking the genetic sample when an arrest is made can often lead to matches in a state database of DNA information collected in other crimes. They say it saves time, helps solve open cases, and puts repeat criminals behind bars before they can act again.
 
Opponents, however, argue that pre-conviction sampling amounts to an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment. They say it violates privacy laws as well.
 
Stephen Mercer, chief attorney for the state public defender’s forensics division,
said by entering DNA from arrests into the database a person is placed under what amounts to “lifelong genetic surveillance,” even if they are never convicted of a crime.
 
He told the Sun it’s no different from kicking down a door to search someone’s home.
 
But Gansler called the privacy argument “silly,” noting that DNA samples are used to solve crimes the “exact same” way as fingerprints.

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