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U.S. Supreme Court: Inmate Can Seek DNA Testing
Posted: March 8, 2011 5:50 pm
The decision won’t immediately get Skinner the DNA testing he’s been seeking for nearly ten years, which he claims will prove he is innocent of the three murders for which he was convicted by a Texas jury in 1995. The case now gets sent back down for still more litigation—unless the Gray County prosecutor, Lynn Switzer, agrees to allow the testing to proceed.
But the Supreme Court’s ruling reaffirmed the important principle that the federal courthouse doors remain open in cases like these, where they may be a prisoner’s one and only remaining hope of obtaining DNA testing that proves innocence.
And fortunately, as the Supreme Court itself noted today, these kinds of drawn-out federal civil rights battles over DNA testing are quite rare in 2011. Most DNA testing cases are settled in state court—or in no court at all, with prosecutors increasingly sharing the view that everyone wins, and no one loses, by allowing a prisoner to obtain a DNA test that could clear him or her and potentially identify who actually committed the crime in the process.
But for Hank Skinner, his long battle to get a DNA test continues—even though that testing could have been over and done in less time than it took the Supreme Court to dispose of prosecutors’ most recent procedural objections. And in Texas, where the courts could now set another execution date at any time, his lawyers may need to continue their recent streak of victories just to keep Skinner alive long enough to see that day. That is, unless prosecutor Switzer finally agrees—court order or no court order—to just do the right thing and allow a DNA test in this case at long last.
Tags: Hank Skinner
Hank Skinner’s Continued Fight for DNA Testing
Posted: November 4, 2011 5:55 pm
Tags: Hank Skinner
Hank Skinner's Fight for DNA Testing Continues
Posted: May 4, 2012 3:30 pm
Tags: Texas, Hank Skinner