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Copyright (c) 2013 Suffolk Journal of Trial & Appellate Advocacy 
Suffolk Journal of Trial & Appellate Advocacy

NOTE: WAITING FOR JOHN DOE: THE PRACTICAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL IMPLICATIONS OF DNA INDICTMENTS

2013

Suffolk Journal of Trial & Appellate Advocacy

18 Suffolk J. Trial & App. Adv. 108

Author

Daniel Gaudet

Excerpt



I. INTRODUCTION
 
Over the course of the past two decades, DNA evidence has become a powerful tool for both prosecutors and defense attorneys in criminal trials. 1 Because it is generally accepted as accurate, this evidence is used in a myriad of ways in various legal proceedings. 2 Notably, in recent years, prosecutors in several states frequently utilized the practice of obtaining a DNA sample from an unknown suspect and issuing a so-called "John Doe" indictment based on the profile developed from the sample. 3 However, the proliferation of this new prosecutorial device has not come without concerns. 4

The main criticisms typically aimed at John Doe DNA indictments focus on the perceived deficiencies of DNA evidence, which can be exacerbated by the gap in time between the collection of a sample and the location of a match. 5 Some have argued that by indicting a DNA sample, prosecutors are able to toll the statute of limitations of the alleged crime until attaching a name to the indictment, allowing for an endless period during which an identity can be later found. 6 Questions thus arise as to whether the use of John Doe DNA indictments violates the statutory and constitutional rights of criminal defendants who are eventually linked to the originating crime. 7 Despite these criticisms, courts have found overwhelmingly in favor of the constitutionality of these indictments. 8

This Note examines the problems that DNA indictments raise for criminal defendants as well as the potential safeguards ...
 
 
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