Federal court upholds California’s DNA sampling law

March 21, 2014

lady-justice2A federal appeals court has unanimously upheld a California law that allows officials to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony. [Mercury News]

The 5-year-old law permits DNA sampling without review by a judge and even if criminal charges are dropped. The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged the law in court on behalf of plaintiffs forced to submit to DNA testing.

One plaintiff, Oakland resident Elizabeth Haskell, had to submit to a DNA test after officers arrested her during a San Francisco rally against the Iraq War. After her arrest, prosecutors never charged her.

But, the 11-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals rejected the ACLU’s argument that the California law threatens privacy right. The court of appeals upheld the DNA sampling law, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that backed a similar law in Maryland.

The Maryland law, however, only allows officials to collect samples from those charged with a serious felony and only after a judge finds probable cause that they have committed a crime.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris said the differences between the California and Maryland laws are not constitutionally significant.

The Obama Administration sided with Harris in the case, citing the national importance of DNA collection laws, now on the books in 28 states.

The 9th circuit court suggested that civil liberties advocates return to lower courts and raise narrower claims. The ACLU expressed interest in doing so.

 


14 Comments

  1. Pelican1 says:

    Gee when I grew up, a swabbie was a sailor. This gives a whole new meaning to the term.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. shelworth says:

    Remember what the Democrats say: “You have to worry about, as long as you haven’t done anything wrong. They record what we say, who we say it to, where we are, and now they want our genome on file! This is 1984 on steroids.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  3. achillesheal says:

    Coming soon, Stop, frisk and schwab. Don’t worry Mr. Citizen, we’re just going to have you submit to this little test.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  4. mkaney says:

    The problem with collecting DNA from people is that DNA itself is used as evidence. So we are now giving them our personal codes which could possibly be reproduced and placed where it could be found as… evidence. You would have no way to prove that you did not commit the crime because the ONE way that you could prove your innocence in a case with circumstantial evidence and one distracted eye witness with a bad memory that is sure it’s you, would be that the DNA on the other physical evidence was not yours.

    That’s a bit of a conundrum, no?

    DNA should never ever ever ever be stored in a form in which it is accessible by someone who doesn’t already have your DNA (in other words, anyone who isn’t you or isn’t close enough to you to get any of your DNA). The benefit of storing DNA for the purpose of comparison in crimes is far far far outweighed by the potential problems. DNA found at a crime scene should only be compared to DNA taken from people who are already suspected of committing that crime (maybe even already charged) and then destroyed afterward.

    To prevent fraud, merchants are no longer allowed to retain your credit card number for longer than it takes to complete the transaction unless they comply with strict security guidelines and audits. And yet you would allow someone to retain your DNA under ANY circumstances?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  5. cliffclaven says:

    Every move you make, every step you take,
    We leave flakes. Skin flakes have our DNA.
    As does the hair we shed, the nails we clip, etc.
    Stay home, or dress like an astronaut.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

  6. shelworth says:

    Great, now they can arrest you, take your DNA, drop the charges, frame you, re-arrest you, convict you. Ta-daa!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

    • Gordo says:

      Oh yeah sure…. and next you’re going to say the government would keep the head of a murder victim locked in a closet years after the body was buried…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

    • Gordo says:

      I think when I retire I will move someplace where they don’t pretend to care about individual freedom and privacy, maybe Russia; at least my taxes would be less.
      Our esteemed state senator Bill Monning introduced a bill that says the data contained in your car’s on board computer belongs to you.
      How about our DNA, Bill who the f##k does that belong to??

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  7. pasoparent5 says:

    When you give birth in a hospital, the nurses already come in and take fingerprints/feet prints of your newborn. In the future, they’ll also take a DNA sample.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  8. kayaknut says:

    Several California politicians should of had their DNA samples taken then, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  9. r0y says:

    This is BAD. VERY BAD.

    *waves goodbye to the 4th Amendment*

    This is one of the avenues of the ACLU that I actively (and financially) support. We cannot let this “foot in the door” because it is so easily abused. I hope everyone caught that bit about:
    “permits DNA sampling without review by a judge and even if criminal charges are dropped.”

    How “out-there” conspiratorial is it to wonder if trumped up charges are brought, just to collect DNA – especially if such evidence was to be planted? Nah, that would never happen. Tin foil hat stuff, right? Or better yet, edited DNA data (it is just 1′s and 0′ in a computer, after all) to match another’s? LOTS of potential problems giving untrustworthy government agencies unfettered access to our DNA (or anything personal and private).

    To the Federal Appeals Court: Please read up on the 4th Amendment. I know it might seem like anything in the Bill of Rights is so last-Tuesday, but that “old stuff” really does matter and exists for a very serious reason. If one is CONVICTED, then by all means, get their DNA. The issue here really is INNOCENT until PROVEN GUILTY, ergo, we should still have our Constitutional Rights as outlined in the Bill of Rights.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

    • Paso_Guy says:

      Fighting windmills?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

      • IronHub says:

        Sadly we are a nation of sheep. If we pay no heed to what our government is doing to us, we deserve what we get.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

        • Paso_Guy says:

          Seems to me all the conspiracy nuts are climbing on board this ship, talk about sheep. Will this bank of info help the conviction rate where innocents are not sent to jail? Maybe that would be a good thing.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

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