HBA-EDN H.B. 157 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 157 By: Hochberg Criminal Jurisprudence 2/12/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Over the past decade, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing has emerged as a reliable forensic technique for identifying criminals when biological evidence is left at a crime scene. DNA testing possesses, in many cases, scientific precision and may conclusively establish guilt or innocence of a defendant. Since DNA testing is often feasible on relevant biological material that is decades old, it can, in some circumstances, prove that a conviction that predated the development of DNA testing was based upon incorrect factual findings. Therefore, DNA testing has the capacity to result in the post-conviction exoneration of innocent men and women. Under current law, it is difficult to obtain post-conviction DNA testing because of time limits and impediments on introducing newly discovered evidence. House Bill 157 allows a convicted person to request DNA testing and requires a court to order the preservation of DNA evidence. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 157 amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to add a chapter relating to postconviction DNA testing and provides that this chapter controls over any law governing habeas corpus or appeal to the extent of any conflict. The bill authorizes a person sentenced for an offense to file a petition in the convicting court requesting the forensic DNA testing of any evidence that is in the possession of the attorney representing the state, law enforcement, or a court; relates to the investigation or prosecution that resulted in the person's conviction; and is biological evidence or may contain biological evidence. The bill requires the court, on receipt of a petition and after providing the attorney representing the state with notice and an opportunity to respond to the allegations in the petition, to order DNA testing if the court finds that: _a reasonable probability exists that DNA testing of the evidence would produce results that, if favorable to the petitioner, would produce evidence relevant and material to the petitioner's claim of innocence; _the evidence sought in the petition exists and is in such a condition that DNA testing of the evidence is possible; _the evidence has not been previously subjected to DNA testing, or if previously subjected to DNA testing, the type of DNA test requested in the petition may be more capable of determining the origin of DNA in or on the evidence than the previous test; and _the petition is filed to demonstrate innocence and not to unreasonably delay the execution of a sentence or the administration of justice. The bill also provides that a petitioner is entitled to counsel during a proceeding for a DNA testing request and requires the court to appoint counsel for an indigent petitioner. Compensation of counsel is provided in the same manner as is required for the procedure in a death penalty case for habeas corpus if the petitioner was convicted of a capital felony and in the same manner as is required for arraignment if the petitioner, in a habeas corpus hearing, is an indigent defendant convicted of a felony other than a capital felony. The bill authorizes the court to require the attorney representing the state or the petitioner to provide the other party with any laboratory reports and notes and underlying data resulting from any DNA testing of evidence related to the petitioner's case. It further provides that if a court orders DNA testing, the court shall require the production of laboratory reports prepared in connection with the testing and is authorized to order the production of underlying data and laboratory notes. The bill requires that on the filing of a petition, unless the petition is summarily dismissed, the court shall order the preservation, until proceedings are final, of all evidence in the petitioner's case that is in the possession of the attorney representing the state, law enforcement, a laboratory, or an officer of the court and that may be subject to DNA testing. The bill requires the court to dismiss the petition and make further orders as appropriate if the results of DNA testing are not favorable to the petitioner. If the results are favorable to the petitioner, the petitioner is considered to have met the necessary requirements under the law for the court to consider the merits of or grant relief based on a subsequent application for writ of habeas corpus, and the court is required to proceed appropriately on this matter. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.