DA's Office for the Third Judicial Dist. v. Osborne

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In DA's Office for the Third Judicial Dist. v. Osborne, 2009 U.S. LEXIS 4536 (June 18, 2009), the U.S. Supreme Court held that there is not a post-conviction constitutional right for a prisoner to obtain DNA evidence from the state about the crime, particularly if the defendant declined such opportunity at trial.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the 5-4 Court, emphasizing the need for finality in criminal justice and for deference to state courts and state legislatures.

Justice Sam Alito went further in a concurrence joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas (with respect to Justice Alito's federalism point II). Justice Alito wrote, in the portion joined by Justice Kennedy:

We also have long recognized the need to impose sharp limits on state prisoners' efforts to bypass state courts with their discovery requests. See, e.g., Wainwright v. Sykes, 433 U.S. 72, 87-90, 97 S. Ct. 2497, 53 L. Ed. 2d 594 (1977); Keeney v. Tamayo-Reyes, 504 U.S. 1, 8-10, 112 S. Ct. 1715, 118 L. Ed. 2d 318 (1992); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 420, 436, 120 S. Ct. 1479, 146 L. Ed. 2d 435 (2000). For example, we have held that "concerns of finality, comity, judicial economy, and channeling the resolution of claims into the most appropriate forum" require a state prisoner to show "cause-and-prejudice" before asking a federal habeas court to hold an evidentiary hearing. Keeney, supra, at 8, 112 S. Ct. 1715, 118 L. Ed. 2d 318. That result reduces opportunities for "'sandbagging' on the part of defense lawyers," Sykes, supra, at 89, 97 S. Ct. 2497, 53 L. Ed. 2d 594, and it "reduces the 'inevitable friction' that results when a federal habeas court 'overturns either the factual or legal conclusions reached by the state-court system,'" Keeney, supra, at 9, 112 S. Ct. 1715, 118 L. Ed. 2d 318 (quoting Sumner v. Mata, 449 U.S. 539, 550, 101 S. Ct. 764, 66 L. Ed. 2d 722 (1981); brackets omitted). Congress subsequently codified Keeney's cause-and-prejudice rule in AEDPA, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2).