Jerry Brown Throws Down: Fights ACLU, Catches Grim Sleeper with “Familial DNA”

California Attorney General Jerry Brown can’t abide ACLU attacking the DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act. So he held a news conference today at the Ninth District United States Court of Appeals down at Seventh and Mission. Read about the presser here at the L.A. Weekly and read all about the law that California voters approved in 2004 right here.

O.K. then. For Jerry Brown, the time to swab your mouth to get DNA is when you get arrested for a felony, but the ACLU thinks that law enforcement should wait until you get convicted of a felony. That’s the focus of today’s oral arguments at the 9th Circuit.

Now, one of the recent successes of the state’s DNA program is the capture of the Grim Sleeper down in L.A. County. That’s an amazing story involving the use of “familial DNA,” an approach that’s illegal in some parts of the U.S. but A-OK here due to JB’s approval back in in aught-eight.  

Here’s what the ACLU has to say about that:

“If you are going to use familial DNA testing, this is probably the case for it,” says ACLU staff attorney Peter Bibring.”

I’d say so. But you can’t even attempt a shot at making a connection with familial DNA if you don’t have the DNA collected in the first place so that’s what today’s court fight is about.

Mark Sconce of the Surviving Parents Coalition with JB this AM.

Jerry was all pumped up today. Getting kind of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western look in his eyes these days. He’s an intense dude.

Will the long arm of the law (in the words the father of one of the victims of the Grim Sleeper) get shorter today?

Stay tuned…

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One Response to “Jerry Brown Throws Down: Fights ACLU, Catches Grim Sleeper with “Familial DNA””

  1. William T says:

    As one who in law enforcement who has been directly involved w/DNA collections (10 yrs) under PC296 & Prop 69, there is much misinformation regarding the suit in many media posts.

    The ACLU suit was not filed over the collection of DNA from “convicted felons.” They filed the suit over the collection of DNA from “persons arrested or charged with a felony” based on a collection in San Francisco.

    While you note JB is fighting for the law (which as AG is his job), he did not pass the 296 legislation or Prop 69; The Voters of CA did!

    The initial 296 law was passed in ’98. The law was challenged in ’99 and upheld by the courts. From 1999 to 2004, individuals convicted of approximately 34 different felonies; homicide, sex crimes, assault, some Dom Vio, burglaries, robberies, etc., had to provide DNA.

    In 2004, Prop 69 was passed, requiring ALL those convicted of a felony to provide DNA. Additionally, those arrested for specific crimes had to provide DNA: Murder, Manslaughter, Sex Crimes, Arson and any attempts of those crimes.

    What’s interesting is the why didn’t the ACLU file a legal challenge to the Arrest Provisions in 2004? Probably because since only violent crimes were covered for felony arrest, it would a bit odd trying to argue to the court; “your honor, our clients are suspects in Rape & Murder, and we fill they should not have to give DNA.” As one would guess, no suit.

    The PC296 legislation always required those on active probation & parole to provide samples. The one small detail never mentioned is those convicted/probation for a misdemeanor must provide samples: if you’re convicted of a misdemeanor or on active probation for a misdemeanor, and you have a past felony conviction on your rap sheet, you must provide DNA. We never saw legal challenge to that part of the law.

    I appreciate the ACLU as they have taken on good fights, but their history with this law is interesting. They claim one cannot have their DNA removed from the Database; NOT TRUE. The reason the courts upheld the law in 1999 is because CA is one of the few states that has a provision in the law: if you are found factually innocent or conviction overturned on appeals, you can have your DNA expunged from the database. Clear as day in the legislation under PC296, but never hear this from the press.

    Also, while JB notes 100s of cold hits, the DOJ has had over 17,000 cold hits since the laws inception; from home evasion to murder. Item to note, the largest number of cold hits for unsolved sex crimes/murders are not those with “violent history” but those with “burglary history.”