McKithen v. Brown: Due Process and Post-Conviction DNA Testing

By: Elizabeth A. Laughton

When the Second Circuit decided McKithen v. Brown, it joined an ever-growing list of courts faced with a difficult and pressing issue of both constitutional and criminal law: is there a federal constitutional right of post-conviction access to evidence for DNA testing? This issue, which sits at the intersection of new forensic technologies and fundamental principles of constitutional due process, has divided the courts. The Second Circuit, wary of reaching a hasty conclusion, remanded McKithen’s case to the district court for consideration. The district court for the Eastern District of New York was asked to decide whether a constitutional right of access to evidence for DNA testing exists both broadly as well as under the defendant’s circumstances. This iBrief concludes that although a due process post-conviction right of access to evidence for DNA testing may exist under some circumstances, it does not exist under current constitutional jurisprudence in McKithen’s case.

Cite: 2008 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0007

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