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Law 101: Legal Guide for the Forensic Expert

Defendants' Access to Postconviction DNA Testing

The issue of whether the Constitution provides a sentenced prisoner a right to DNA testing independent of a state postconviction statute was largely but not entirely resolved in DA's Office for the Third Judicial Dist. v. Osborne, 129 S. Ct. 2308 (U.S. 2009). Although federal law and the law of 46 states provide for at least some access to postconviction DNA testing, Alaska did not. In Osborne, the Court declined to hold that an Alaskan sentenced inmate had a constitutional right to postconviction testing enforceable, under civil rights laws as a due process claim, because, as the Court majority concluded, Alaska's law provided sufficient procedures for presenting "new" evidence to satisfy due process concerns, procedures the majority contended that Osborne had not invoked.

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