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Post-Conviction DNA Testing

Award Information

Award #
15PBJA-22-GG-01413-POST
Location
Congressional District
Status
Open
Funding First Awarded
2022
Total funding (to date)
$550,000

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $550,000)

Since 1989, DNA testing has exonerated 558 individuals nationwide. Only 27 of 558 DNA-related exonerations took place in California—a state that incarcerates more inmates than any state other than Texas. Additional DNA testing is required in serious felony cases in California for individuals who claim their innocence. The expected outcomes are that DNA testing may establish these individuals were wrongfully convicted and, potentially, indicate the perpetrators of the felony offense.

The California Forensic Science Institute (CFSI) within the School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics has successfully collaborated with Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent (LPI), under the supervision of Legal Director Paula Mitchell, to investigate wrongful conviction claims in murder and serious felony cases throughout southern California. This collaboration has resulted in DNA testing of evidence in several cases from Los Angeles County and Orange County (currently ongoing) and wrongful convictions being overturned in San Diego County and Kern County. Under this award, forensic science faculty and graduate students associated with CFSI will continue to liaise with the same team of staff attorneys to identify and review cases and locate biological evidence associated with post-conviction cases. These cases will be selected from direct requests for assistance by individuals incarcerated in California state prisons explicitly stating that their innocence could be proven through DNA testing.
The CFSI will have primary responsibility for implementing and managing the award. To streamline the administration of the funding, CFSI will directly hire one senior post-conviction attorney (Paula Mitchell) as a consultant to oversee DNA case identification and review. This attorney will also supervise the same team of staff attorneys who have been working under the existing grant, taking the lead in identifying potential DNA testing cases that are probative candidates for careful review from the requests for DNA testing. We will also hire a DNA consultant (Mehul Anjaria) during a case review to determine whether DNA testing is appropriate, including explaining why the analysis is recommended for the biological evidence. The expert will also participate in discussions concerning the interpretation of the DNA results. The CFSI’s Post-conviction DNA Testing Program will: (1) target 10-15 cases in which DNA testing could prove the actual innocence of a person convicted of a violent felony offense and (2) locate biological evidence associated with those cases. CFSI will consult with a DNA expert and contract with an accredited laboratory to conduct DNA analysis of appropriate biological evidence.

Since 1989, DNA testing has exonerated 558 individuals nationwide. Only 27 of 558 DNA-related exonerations took place in California—a state that incarcerates more inmates than any state other than Texas. Additional DNA testing is required in serious felony cases in California for individuals who claim their innocence. The expected outcomes are that DNA testing may establish these individuals were wrongfully convicted and, potentially, indicate the perpetrators of the felony offense.

The California Forensic Science Institute (CFSI) within the School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics has successfully collaborated with Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent (LPI), under the supervision of Legal Director Paula Mitchell, to investigate wrongful conviction claims in murder and serious felony cases throughout southern California. This collaboration has resulted in DNA testing of evidence in several cases from Los Angeles County and Orange County (currently ongoing) and wrongful convictions being overturned in San Diego County and Kern County. Under this award, forensic science faculty and graduate students associated with CFSI will continue to liaise with the same team of staff attorneys to identify and review cases and locate biological evidence associated with post-conviction cases. These cases will be selected from direct requests for assistance by individuals incarcerated in California state prisons explicitly stating that their innocence could be proven through DNA testing.
The CFSI will have primary responsibility for implementing and managing the award. To streamline the administration of the funding, CFSI will directly hire one senior post-conviction attorney (Paula Mitchell) as a consultant to oversee DNA case identification and review. This attorney will also supervise the same team of staff attorneys who have been working under the existing grant, taking the lead in identifying potential DNA testing cases that are probative candidates for careful review from the requests for DNA testing. We will also hire a DNA consultant (Mehul Anjaria) during a case review to determine whether DNA testing is appropriate, including explaining why the analysis is recommended for the biological evidence. The expert will also participate in discussions concerning the interpretation of the DNA results. The CFSI’s Post-conviction DNA Testing Program will: (1) target 10-15 cases in which DNA testing could prove the actual innocence of a person convicted of a violent felony offense and (2) locate biological evidence associated with those cases. CFSI will consult with a DNA expert and contract with an accredited laboratory to conduct DNA analysis of appropriate biological evidence.

Date Created: September 6, 2022