Post-Conviction DNA Testing, Actual Innocence, and Cold Cases: A Practitioner's Guide to Freeing the Innocent, Exhuming the Past, and Resurrecting the Truth. Making a Case for Seeking Justice over Finality

The article addresses the dramatic impact that post-conviction DNA testing has had on the criminal justice system in the United States, not only in effecting the release of innocent prisoners who have been wrongfully convicted but also with respect to the perception of the court system itself in terms of the seeming tension between seeking justice and honoring the finality of judgments. An overview of post-conviction DNA testing statutes in the United States is provided, including a description of the elements generally required to secure such testing, a survey and comparison of various provisions in state statutes, and a brief treatment of innocence projects. The article concludes with a detailed discussion of three DNA cases personally litigated by the author - two criminal cases, one involving a murder and the other a rape, and one forty-year-old cold case - with the purpose of providing real-life guidance from a practitioner's perspective.

Steven W. Becker

Founding Member, Law Office of Steven W. Becker LLC, Chicago, Illinois USA; Deputy Secretary General, International Association of Penal Law (France)