(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, 41 States, the District of Columbia, and Guam joined Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in filing an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to confirm that scientific experts can testify at criminal trials about DNA data.
“The consequences of this case affect every prosecutor, every law enforcement agency, and every crime lab in this country. If DNA experts are not allowed to testify in cases such as this, it will increase the time it takes to test evidence and hinder the ability of prosecutors and law enforcement to prosecute cases,” said Attorney General DeWine.
The U.S. Supreme Court accepted review of Williams v. Illinois, No. 10-8505, earlier this year, when Sandy Williams appealed an Illinois Supreme Court decision affirming his conviction for sexual assault, kidnapping, and robbery. Williams says his Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him was violated when an Illinois trial court allowed a DNA expert to testify at his criminal trial, but where the analyst who performed the test was never called. The expert had reviewed DNA data and testified about her independent conclusions.
DeWine took the lead in preparing an amicus brief for the States in support of Illinois because the outcome of this case could significantly affect how prosecutors use scientific evidence to prove crimes. In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has changed—and in certain ways, limited—prosecutors’ ability to introduce scientific data at criminal trials. DeWine’s brief for the States urges the Supreme Court to continue to allow scientific experts to testify about their own conclusions about scientific data regardless of whether they personally performed all the testing.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Williams on December 6, 2011.
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
States' Amicus Brief (PDF)