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SCOTUS rules Rodney Reed can pursue lawsuit for DNA testing



“This opinion today means that (Reed) has the opportunity to continue to fight to get DNA testing. It means that he can go back to the Fifth Circuit and hopefully get more arguments and get more of an opportunity to argue that he is entitled, under the Texas post-conviction DNA testing statute to get DNA testing,” said Jane Pucher, a senior staff attorney with the Innocence Project representing Reed.


KXAN: U.S. Supreme Court sides with Rodney Reed in case related to DNA testing


By David Barer and Avery Travis, April 19, 2023


Austin (KXAN) – The U.S. Supreme Court sided Wednesday with Texas inmate Rodney Reed, with the majority of the justices agreeing that a lower court had wrongfully dismissed a lawsuit Reed filed seeking further DNA testing of crime scene evidence, such as the murder weapon, in his death-row case.


For years, Reed’s defense team has fought for additional DNA testing. The latest Supreme Court decision relates to a lawsuit Reed filed to ultimately get more testing done.



The issue before the Supreme Court traced back to a 2014 motion Reed filed in Texas state court requesting DNA testing on certain evidence, including a belt believed to have been used to strangle the 1996 murder victim, 19-year-old Stacey Stites. Reed’s motion was denied by a state court, in part because the evidence was not well preserved. Reed later sued in federal court, arguing that “the law’s stringent chain-of-custody requirement was unconstitutional,” according to the opinion.


A federal district court dismissed that lawsuit, and the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal on the ground that the claim was filed too late, according to the Supreme Court opinion. Reed’s argument to the Supreme Court, which the court agreed with, was that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong in saying the claim was too late.


“This opinion today means that (Reed) has the opportunity to continue to fight to get DNA testing. It means that he can go back to the Fifth Circuit and hopefully get more arguments and get more of an opportunity to argue that he is entitled, under the Texas post-conviction DNA testing statute to get DNA testing,” said Jane Pucher, a senior staff attorney with the Innocence Project representing Reed.


Pucher said one of the most basic things in crime scene investigation, when someone is killed, is testing the murder weapon.


“That’s all that Mr. Reed has been asking to do here, and the state has routinely refused to agree to that testing, and he’s been shut out of court until this moment,” she said.




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