Going deep for your DNA
- Court upholds California law giving the police the power to take your DNA without a warrant even if you are never charged with a crime.
Police State - Anyone arrested for a felony in California can now expect both an unpleasant trip to jail and a demand for a sample of their precious DNA.
To the dismay of civil liberties advocates, a federal appeals court on Thursday unanimously upheld California's law allowing collection of DNA samples from anyone arrested on a felony, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year backing a similar Maryland law. A special 11-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected the American Civil Liberties Union's argument that California's law is broader than Maryland's and threatens privacy rights more.
California's controversial 5-year-old law permits collection of DNA from people at the point of felony arrest without review by a judge and even if criminal charges are never pressed, raising concerns that it intrudes on privacy rights for those arrestees who may never appear in a courtroom reports the San Joes Mercury News.
Maryland's law permits collection only from those charged with a serious felony and after a judge finds probable cause they've committed a crime.
ACLU lawyers indicated they plan to take up the 9th Circuit's invitation and will ask a federal judge to hear arguments on whether particular groups of people arrested for felonies should be insulated against the DNA collection law.
The ACLU's 2009 lawsuit was brought on behalf of plaintiffs such as an Oakland woman, Elizabeth Haskell, who was arrested during a San Francisco rally against the Iraq War. Haskell was required to submit to DNA testing at the time of her arrest but was never charged with a crime.
"We need to find where the line is," said Michael Risher, an ACLU attorney. "We'd certainly be focused on people like our named plaintiffs who were never charged with an offense. That to us is a core group of people who clearly do not fall under the (Supreme Court's) ruling."
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