Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Washington Supreme Court Sets Standard For Post-Conviction DNA Testing

Rogelio V. Solis
AP Photo
File image

Washington’s Supreme Court may have just made it easier for prison inmates to try to get their convictions overturned through DNA testing. In a 6-to-3 ruling Thursday, the high court said inmates don’t have to show they’re likely innocent in order to win a post-conviction DNA test.

The ruling stems from the case of Lindsey L. Crumpton, who was convicted of breaking into the home of an elderly Bremerton widow in 1993 and raping her multiple times. Years later, Crumpton sought to have a post-conviction review of the DNA evidence.

The courts denied the request on the grounds that it was unlikely that DNA testing would exonerate him. The Washington Supreme Court, though, has set a standard that is less rigid. In order to get a new test, a convict only has to show that the results of a DNA test could prove their innocence or guilt.

“And in a multiple perpetrator scenario, it might not, but in a single perpetrator scenario, it might very well,” said attorney Diane Meyers, who filed a friend of the court brief in this case on behalf of the Innocence Network.

Meyers calls the decision “incredibly meaningful” for anyone wrongfully convicted in Washington. But the three dissenting justices warn this ruling will open the floodgates and allow convicted rapists going back 20 years to request and receive post-conviction DNA testing.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.