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News Scan

Is DNA Testing of Arrestees Unconstitutional?   Laws in 25 states which allow DNA testing of people arrested for felonies prior to conviction are under attack by defendant's rights and privacy advocates as reported by Ashby Jones in today's WSJ.  While laws which require DNA testing of convicted felons have withstood legal challenges so far, in recent weeks conflicting rulings have been announced regarding testing after an arrest.  Last week a California appellate court ruled that such testing violates the 4th Amendment.  In late July the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that a similar federal law did not.  Although the ACLU and other defendant's rights groups are quick to champion DNA testing when it helps overturn a conviction or delay an execution, they are criticizing testing following an arrest as an unwarranted invasion of privacy.  

Witness Killed During Florida Gang Trial:  Kelli Kennedy of the AP reports a South Florida gang trial turned deadly earlier this week when police discovered the bloodied body of a witness in a parking lot on the day he was supposed to testify against Futo Charles, the alleged leader of the Palm Beach County's "Top 6" gang.  Top 6 began as a small group of Haitian teens in the mid-1990s, but has grown to an estimated 400-450 members and is now the most violent gang in the county's history.  Charles, whom authorities first noticed in 1996, was arrested during a 2008 sting using RICO charges.  After this week's shooting, a judge ordered jurors to be partially sequestered and escorted by armed guards to and from the courthouse.

Texas Executes Gang Killer: 
Texas executed convicted murderer Martin Robles last night, reports Cody Stark of The Huntsville Item (TX) (see also yesterday's News Scan post). Robles is the ninth death row inmate to be executed in Texas this year.

Arizona Appeals Immigration Ruling to Supreme Court:  David G. Savage reports in the Los Angeles Times that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to revive the state's controversial illegal immigration law, SB 1070, which would allow police to check the immigration status of people lawfully stopped and suspected of being in the country illegally.  The law was put on hold after rulings from a federal judge in Phoenix and the 9th Circuit.  Former Solicitor General Paul Clement, on behalf of Arizona, is arguing to the high court that states have a general police power that will allow them to enforce the law within the state, and that the "disproportionate impact" of illegal immigration on Arizona justifies extra enforcement measures.

Former Inmate Caught Breaking into Prison:
  Authorities caught a 48-year-old parolee sneaking into a California prison yesterday, reports Paul Janes at News10.com (Sacramento).  Marvin Ussrey claimed he was reminiscing, but authorities believe he may have entered the prison grounds to drop off contraband.

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