The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act (HR 3214), authorizing over $1 billion to facilitating the testing and processing of DNA kits in criminal cases. Sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), HR 3214 designates $755 million over five years to the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, focused on eliminating the current backlog of 300,000 DNA rape kits nationwide. In addition, the measure supports Sen. Joseph Biden's (D-DE) DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act (S. 152), providing grant monies for training and education of law enforcement, medical, and judicial professionals involved in using DNA data for sexual assault cases. Finally, the package also extends upon the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), offering legal assistances for dating violence victims and grant funding for coalitions servicing violence victims.
Under provisions of this bill, death row inmates would be permitted to call on DNA testing to prove their innocence. Rep. Sensenbrenner was pleased with the measure's passage through the House, "Many crimes could be solved, many guilty people taken off the streets, and many victims could be spared from further crimes," the AP reported.
10/29/2014 North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Restrictions - The North Dakota Supreme Court yesterday upheld a set of misguided restrictions on medication abortion, allowing what is effectively a ban on early, non-surgical abortions in the state to go into effect immediately.
The decision overturned a lower court order finding the law, known as HB 1297, unconstitutional and permanently blocking its enforcement. . . .
10/29/2014 Georgia Court Refuses to Recognize 40K Voter Registrations From Primarily People of Color and Young People - A state court judge on Tuesday refused to order the Georgia Secretary of State to add some 40,000 voters to the voter rolls, potentially disenfranchising thousands of African Americans and other people of color in the state.
Judge Christopher Brasher of the Fulton County Superior Court denied a petition from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCR), the New Georgia Project and the Georgia branch of the NAACP asking the court to force Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) to process an estimated 40,000 "missing" voter registrations.
More than 100,000 voters were registered by the three groups, but about a third of those registered never made the rolls. . . .