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Supreme Court takes DNA evidence and injured worker cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] granted certiorari [order list, PDF] in two cases Monday. In District Attorney’s Office v. Osborne [docket; cert. petition, PDF] the Court will consider whether a defendant has the right, under 42 U.S.C. 1983 [text] or the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to obtain postconviction access to the state’s biological evidence. William Osborne was charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, and physical assault, and his lawyer made a strategic decision to forgo independent DNA testing of the state’s biological evidence. He was convicted and, years later, sought access to the biological evidence for purposes of new DNA testing. The issue is whether the Supreme Court's decision in the 1963 case of Brady v. Maryland [text] created a right of access to evidence only at the trial stage or whether it can apply in a post-conviction proceeding.

In Atlantic Sounding v. Townsend [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will consider whether an injured seaman may recover punitive damages for the willful failure of his employer to pay a basic living allowance, wages that he otherwise would have earned, and benefits to cover medical expenses. The employer contends that the applicable statutes, the Jones Act [46 U.S.C. §§ 30104-30105, text] and the Death on the High Seas Act [46 U.S.C. §§ 30302-30303, text] do not cover such expenses.

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