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NCJ Number: 169942 Find in a Library
Title: Second Chance for Justice: Illinois' Post-Trial Forensic Testing Law
Journal: Judicature  Volume:81  Issue:3  Dated:(November-December 1997)  Pages:114-117
Author(s): G W O'Reilly
Date Published: 1997
Page Count: 4
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Illinois law mandates post-trial DNA and fingerprint testing when requested by a convicted person if such testing was not available at trial.
Abstract: The statute creates a two-part process. First, it establishes a post-trial motion through which a convicted person may petition for fingerprint or DNA testing of evidence collected before trial if the test had not then been available. The petitioner must file the motion in the court that entered the conviction, and there is no deadline for filing. Second, if the court grants the motion and the test results are favorable to the petitioner, he/she may then file a petition for a new trial based on this evidence. In deciding whether to grant a new trial, the court will apply the existing standard for cases involving newly discovered evidence. The Illinois law authorizes DNA and fingerprint testing if the new test meets the Frye standard for the admissibility of scientific evidence. Although the new law would apparently help people who were wrongfully convicted, it has prompted criticism not only from prosecutors but also from some defense attorneys and opponents of the death penalty. Defense attorneys argue that the law does not cover key causes of wrongful convictions, such as inadequate counsel, concealed evidence, or perjury; they also note that it does not apply to constitutional errors or flawed sentencing procedures. Some death penalty opponents view the law as inadequate to eliminate the risk of executing the innocent, and it might lower public awareness of the criminal justice system's fallibility, thus taking the steam out of moves for a moratorium on the death penalty or efforts to provide adequate defense for death penalty cases.
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): DNA fingerprinting; Fingerprints; Illinois; Post-conviction remedies; State laws
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