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Post-conviction DNA testing in Wisconsin

Following being convicted of a crime, there are various actions a person may be able to take to try to challenge the conviction. These could include actions related to DNA evidence. For example, in some instances, a convicted individual might request that DNA testing be done on evidence that was not previously tested or had previously been tested with methods less accurate than currently available ones.

Here in Wisconsin, state law sets up various rules regarding the requesting of such post-conviction testing. This includes rules on: the requirements for making such a request, the process of making such a request and what a court must find to order such testing.

The state’s supreme court recently made a ruling in a case that regarded post-conviction DNA testing.

The case involved a man who received a murder conviction in the 1980s. A few years ago, the man requested DNA testing on some crime scene evidence. The man argued that his situation met the requirements for publicly funded post-conviction testing.

The man’s request for the testing was initially denied, but this was then reversed by a state appeals court.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in its decision, opted to reverse the appeals court’s decision and stick with denying the man’s request. The court found that that the requirements for publicly funded post-conviction DNA testing were not met in this case.

The court made an additional ruling in the case that has some wider implications. Specifically, the court overruled a past state supreme court decision regarding post-conviction DNA testing. That past decision, from 2005, had ruled that a convicted individual could receive post-conviction DNA testing that didn’t meet the requirements for publicly funded testing if they privately funded it. In the recent decision, the court held that this past ruling was incorrect and that privately funding testing expenses doesn’t exempt a person from having to meet the state requirements for post-conviction DNA testing.

As this case underscores, post-conviction matters have complex rules governing them and can raise some complicated issues. Such matters can be impacted by a wide range of different statutes and court decisions. What quality of legal guidance a convicted individual receives when navigating these complex matters can have considerable implications. So, when a person is trying to challenge a criminal conviction, they may want to promptly turn to an attorney skilled in post-conviction issues.

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