Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $497,807)
Under this program, BJA provides funding to help defray the costs associated with postconviction DNA testing for violent felony offenses (as defined by state law) in which actual innocence might be demonstrated.
Louisiana State University Law and Innocence Project New Orleans will partner to design and implement this proposal to conduct DNA testing of cases with strong innocence merit. Once cases have been selected, the Wrongful Conviction Clinic will begin tracking down potentially exculpatory physical evidence. Only those cases where the following could be established through thorough records review and some investigation will move onto the third and final stage:
(1) Evidence was collected in the case that, if tested, could establish innocence.
(2) The testable evidence either still exists or there is high likelihood that it still exists.
(3) The incarcerated person understands DNA testing and wants testing.
(4) The current evidence leaves reason to doubt the incarcerated persons guilt. In stage three, postconviction application for DNA testing is filed in the criminal district court where the petitioner was convicted. The district court must order testing and direct the evidence custodian to transfer the evidence to an accredited laboratory that is agreeable to the state and the petitioner. By the end of the grant period, it is anticipated that the Wrongful Conviction Clinic will have exonerated or be well on its way to exonerating 8-12 wrongly convicted innocent individuals.