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Saturday, February 22, 2003

Senate OKs DNA Testing To Show Felons' Innocence

The Associated Press
    SANTA FE The state Senate has agreed unanimously to revive the procedures for convicted felons to use DNA evidence to try to prove their innocence.
    They would file petitions with state district courts, which could order DNA tests done and supervise the proceedings.
    Depending on the outcome of the testing, courts could set aside convictions, dismiss charges, grant new trials or order other relief.
    "This bill will ensure that we don't put people in prison who shouldn't be there," said Senate Judiciary Chairman Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, the bill's sponsor.
    A state law enacted in 2001 gave prisoners only one year, until July 2002, to petition district courts to reopen their cases and order DNA testing.
    Sanchez said only a handful of prisoners used it, and he did not expect a flood of petitions to be filed if the law were revived.
    The bill, approved by the Senate earlier this week, went to the House.