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Supreme Court: Maryland DNA Ruling Conflicts With Other States

Four-page opinion hints that justices will likely overturn Maryland ruling involving the collection of samples from people charged with felonies.

UPDATED (6:00 p.m.)—U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts continued a stay in the Maryland Court of Appeals ruling that had stopped police departments in Maryland from collecting DNA samples from some arrestees.

With the delay continued, police in Maryland can continue to collect the samples until the Supreme Court issues an opinion. 

Roberts, in a four-page order, wrote that there is a reasonable chance that Maryland could win its appeal and overturn the Court of Appeals ruling.

"[The Maryland Court of Appeals] decision conflicts with decisions of the U. S. Courts of Appeals for the Third and Ninth Circuits as well as the Virginia Supreme Court, which have upheld statutes similar to Maryland’s DNA Collection Act," Roberts wrote.

Prior to the Court of Appeals ruling, police departments were permitted to collect DNA samples from people arrested on felony charges.

The ruling was in response to an appeal filed by Alonzo King who was arrested in 2009. Wicomico County collected King's DNA at the time of his arrest and later charged him in a 2003 rape, for which he was ultimately convicted.

Lawyers for King argued that the DNA swab violated their client's Fourth Amendment rights.

Police departments around the state while the Maryland Attorney General appealed the decision.

"This is the biggest setback to law enforcement in 20 years," Takoma Park Police , according to Rockville Patch. "It's a sad day for law enforcement and it's a sad day for the judicial system

Roberts on July 18 pending a response from King's attorneys.

One day later, Baltimore County police Chief Jim Johnson announced his agency based on Roberts' initial order.

Other agencies around the state have followed suit.

"It was something we did in the past according to the guidelines, and we suspended after the last ruling," Amy Miguez, an Annapolis Police Department spokeswoman, said. "Now with this ruling were are starting to collect samples again."

 

Annapolis Patch Local Editor contributed to this report.

James Smith August 01, 2012 at 03:34 AM
It is my understanding that the sample is collected at arrest, but is not analyzed until a conviction in the case. If the person is found not guilty, the DNA sample is destroyed.
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MD Resident August 01, 2012 at 05:24 PM
1. Why are fingerprints different? 2. What about mugshots? 3. Don't collect DNA at all? I hope you mean at the time of arrest. Please tell me you are not talking about even after conviction.
Denise August 04, 2012 at 02:32 AM
what about the crooked cops just trying to solve a cold case. they think people will fall for anything. why do you think we have innocent people locked up
TLC August 04, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Innocent people being locked up are few and far between.

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