Wednesday, April 02, 2008

KSC rejects John Doe warrant

Rebecca Woodman won in State v. Belt, No. 95,575 (Kan. March 28, 2008), affirming dismissal orders in three counties involving "John Doe" warrants, warrants based on DNA. These orders ended sexual assult prosecutions in each county. Although the KSC accepted that such warrants could be valid, the "mere listing of DNA loci in the warrant or in a supporting affidavit cannot" identify a defendant with reasonable certainty:
These cases from California and Wisconsin support the proposition that a warrant identifying the person to be arrested for a sexual offense by description of the person's unique DNA profile, or incorporating by reference an affidavit containing such a unique profile, can satisfy constitutional and statutory particularity requirements. See, e.g., K.S.A. 22-2304. We do not disagree with this proposition in the abstract. But this case is concrete. Here, neither the John Doe warrants nor the affidavits supporting them set forth the unique DNA profile of their subject.

. . . .

Moreover, as Belt notes, there was no reason the State could not have particularly described the perpetrator's unique DNA profile in the warrants or their supporting affidavits. The unique profile was known and could have been set out. That genetic information was necessary to provide an evidentiary baseline for probable cause. The fact that it would need to be verified scientifically once defendant was seized did not eliminate the need for this baseline to be drawn in the warrant in the first place. The affidavits' references to unattached, unsworn, extrinsic evidence was insufficient to fulfill the constitutional and statutory requirements and cure the defective warrants.

So this is a win for Belt, but also sort of a win for the state on the law. And since Belt is sitting on death row for an unrelated offense, so the state didn't really have much to lose in his specific case.

Here is coverage in the Wichita Eagle. And here is coverage on

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