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.

TLC July 31, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Keep collecting it!!!
Mike Burrows July 31, 2012 at 02:40 AM
DNA databasing has proved to be one of the greatest investigative tools ever available to law enforcement agencies. Communities that adopt comprehensive DNA databasing see two digit reductions in nearly all categories of crime. Why does the Maryland Supreme Court feel they must protect criminals and leave us exposed?
Zoobie July 31, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Any lawyer can submit an appeal for his client based on what the lawyer deems to be reasonable grounds. This appeal was a stretch, since the policy is accepted nationwide to collect DNA from felonious arrests.The lawyer in this case tried to attack 'Prcedent' and lost. It happens all the time, except this case was 'shakey' to begin with. I'm happy to see Justice Roberts can still get it right sometime, especially after that 'Obamacare' bad decision!!!
Bernard Simms July 31, 2012 at 08:04 AM
Here we go again people, just because u are arrested on a felony charge for a crime, it does not mean that u are gulity of that charge. Now if u are found gulity of that charge then the system should be able to collect your DNA. I's called do process of the law.
MocoLoco July 31, 2012 at 12:30 PM
For all you people who think that the police should collect DNA at the arrest stage (when you are still presumed innocent), please explain why the police shouldn't also collect DNA when you apply for (or renew) your drivers licence? Or when you register to vote. After all, innocent people have nothing to fear, right? So, please, if you're going to support this initiative, at least support its logical extension.
Captain Cook July 31, 2012 at 12:45 PM
That a'boy, Simms, just keep thinking that ALL the perps arrested are done so at random. Cops just pick 'em off the street, right? Oh yeah....
JDStuts July 31, 2012 at 01:07 PM
For everyone framing this as a weakness of far left liberal sensibilities, keep in mind that far right thinkers like Justice Scalia and Roberts, view this as an intrusion of personal liberty and will most likely strike it down on those grounds. Sometimes when you go so far to one side you'll find yourself meeting the other side's fringe.
MD July 31, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Loco, The reason, is simple, police do not hand out drivers license (not licence as you spelled it). Thats a state role, not law enforcement. Again, voting isnt issued out by police. If you didnt break the law to begin with, why be worried? I have given DNA and yet, I'm free. Dont do the crime....
Buck Harmon July 31, 2012 at 01:24 PM
For the guilty it is not a violation of any right. For the Innocent...a major violation regardless of any ruling by a corrupt and in effective court system. Those that violate the oath to uphold the Constitution should be removed from office and harshly punished by the people. Courts can not control their own destiny and remain within the constraints of the Constitution.
MocoLoco July 31, 2012 at 01:36 PM
MD--you've "given DNA"? In any case--why do you think that only the police can collect DNA? It's a simple cheek-swab. Anyone can do this with minimal training. It can happen at DMV, or where you register to vote. My point is--are you comfortable collecting a nationwide database of DNA from any and all people, not just arrestees? After all, the innocent have nothing to fear. And, if we did this, we would save the police much time investigating crimes by excluding people because their DNA doesn't match.
Jeanne July 31, 2012 at 01:47 PM
I think the police should collect the person's dna when they do the fingerprints. If the person is innocent they will be freed much faster,if the person guilty they could be thrown in jail a lot sooner. On another subject I think dna should also be collected automatically, of the man & child, if a man is named as a father of a child and child support is demanded. Most woman are honest and just want help giving their children the best they can but there are con artist out there that like to pick the best person to get money out of that they had sex with. Sorry I went off topic about crime but it stayed on dna.
Eric the Red July 31, 2012 at 01:49 PM
"DUE" Process
Bryan P. Sears July 31, 2012 at 01:59 PM
A comment by user "adminnikePrinz" was deleted because it violates Patch's terms of use prohibiting commercial posts.
Leslie Schildgen July 31, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Illegal search and seizure violation claimed as the defense for a rapist. . . don't think so. His defense attorney ought to be ashamed.
Paul Amirault July 31, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Buck and I have found an area of agreement. We both recognize the potential benefit of this DNA sample taken from accused. But the peril is there as well. How far are we from taking DNA samples at traffic stops? You have been charged with a crime, i.e., speeding. We have sobriety checkpoints also, why not have random DNA checkpoints and solve a whole bunch of crime? Just asking?
Jennifer Wheatley-Wolf July 31, 2012 at 03:08 PM
DNA collection of felons can prevent crimes by getting these guys off the streets quicker. In 1993 William Joseph Trice was arrested for indecent exposure (felony) and spent 13 months in jail. His DNA was not collected. It took grant money received from the government in 2004 for the purpose of retesting felony cold-cases to finally link Trice to 3 (so far) rapes. (The most recent being in Montgomery County a couple of weeks ago) Had DNA been collected from him at the time of his incarceration in 1993, these cases could have been closed quicker, freeing detectives to investigate and solve other cases. Also, it is yet to be known how many other women Trice raped between his release from jail in 1995 and 2009 when he was finally arrested. Find out how this rapist was stopped by reading -One Voice Raised: A Triumph Over Rape (Amazon) by Jennifer Wheatley-Wolf & Chief Investigator David Cordle
Richard Rice July 31, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Captain Cook, I completely agree with you.
JDStuts July 31, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Actually, as a conservative, right leaning jurist Roberts and Scalia will most likely overthrow this law as an unconstitutional invasion of personal liberty. The goal of the conservative movement is less government intrusion and greater individual liberty. Permitting the police to collect DNA is the epitome of Ronald Regan's quote, "I am from the government and I am here to help." Massive collection of DNA for random enforcement of new laws drawn up by left leaning politicians smacks of socialism on a scale we haven't seen since the days of the KGB. No thanks comrade, hopefully Roberts court will restore American liberty.
JDStuts July 31, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Across the country, there exist medical labs which are backed up with DNA samples and rape kits. Some are understaffed, unable to properly handle the demand for DNA testing. Some places have simply proved inadequate, like the HPD crime lab in Houston, which facilitated the conviction of an innocent man for rape. Although the victim identified her two rapists, a man named Josiah Sutton was the only one brought to trial and ultimately convicted of the rape. The crime lab had incorrectly identified his DNA in a semen sample, and testimony from one technician stated that Sutton was most certainly the attacker based on an ‘exact DNA match.’ Re-testing later completely ruled out Sutton as a suspect. He had served almost five years in prison and was one of thousands of people convicted with evidence from the HPD crime lab, which consequently shut down.
Kraken Attack July 31, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I don't think the collection of DNA is an issue, rather the use of DNA in the prosecution of a crime. No one should ever be convicted on DNA evidence alone, there are too many variables to consider.
Tim July 31, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Captain Cook: Were you saying the same thing about Chief Roberts last month?
Tim July 31, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Related note: I really enjoy debating subjects with Buck (when we disagree) because he's always both informed and well spoken.
Tim July 31, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Leslie: Try and understand this. I understand you're female (most likely). It's a defense attorney's JOB to defend his client. Its one of the rights given to a person in this country, you know. Outside of blatantly lying to the court, the defense attorney is there to protect the rights of the accused - it's not his job to judge. Everyone hates lawyers - until they need one.
MD Resident July 31, 2012 at 08:45 PM
The police should not collect DNA at all, it's an invasion of privacy.
Buck Harmon July 31, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Great points...
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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