Willamette Law Online

United States Supreme Court Certiorari Granted


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Maryland v. King

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: November 9, 2012
Case #: 12-207
Court Below: Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, 425 Md. 550 (2012)
Full Text Opinion: http://mdcourts.gov/opinions/coa/2012/68a11.pdf

Constitutional Law: Whether the Fourth Amendment allows states to collect and analyze DNA from persons arrested for violent crimes who have been charged but not convicted.

The Maryland DNA Collection Act allows the state to collect DNA samples from those charged with violent crimes prior to any conviction. Respondent was arrested on assault charges and a DNA sample was taken. The sample was uploaded to the DNA database and was found to match unidentified DNA obtained during a previously unsolved rape some years earlier. Based on this DNA match, Respondent was charged with first-degree rape and related charges. After Respondent’s motion to suppress the DNA evidence was denied, Respondent was convicted and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. A divided Court of Appeals of Maryland reversed, holding that the state statute was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment’s totality of the circumstances balancing test because Respondent’s expectation of privacy outweighed the state’s interest in using his DNA to solve unsolved crime, and that the DNA should have been suppressed as “fruit of the poisonous tree.”

The state petitioned the Supreme Court for a stay pending resolution of its petition for writ of certiorari. In July, Chief Justice Roberts granted the stay, finding that there was a “reasonable probability” that the Court would grant the writ of certiorari, that there was a “fair prospect” the Court would reverse the Court of Appeals of Maryland’s decision, and that the standing decision subjected the state of Maryland to “ongoing irreparable harm.” The Court granted the State's petition for certiorari to resolve a circuit split between the Courts of Appeals for the Third and Ninth Circuits and several state courts.