US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts [official profile] on Wednesday temporarily stayed [order, PDF] a Maryland Court of Appeals [official website] ruling that police could not collect DNA from individuals arrested for violent crimes and burglaries. The appeals court struck down [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] the DNA collection law [text, PDF] in April, finding a violation of the arrestee's Fourth Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] right to privacy. Roberts' one-sentence decision will remain in effect at least until July 25 when a response is due from the defendant, Alonzo Jay King. The court may agree to hear the case when it reconvenes in October.
Lower courts have been split on this issue. In February the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that buccal mouth swabs may be used to extract DNA samples from any adult arrested or charged with a felony in California, thereby upholding a 2004 voter-enacted provision [Proposition 69 materials] of the DNA and Forensic Identification Database and Data Bank Act of 1998 [text]. It also reversed a decision [JURIST report] issued last August by a three-judge panel for the California First District Court of Appeals [official website] holding that DNA samples cannot be taken broadly from any adult arrested or charged with a felony. In January the Minnesota Supreme Court [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that a state law requiring the collection of DNA samples by people convicted of crimes does not violate the Fourth Amendment.