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Comments on the Innocence Protection Act



                                      503 D Street, NW
       Vice President                     Suite 500A                      Board of Directors
     Geneva Vanderhorst              Washington, DC 20001
                                                                              Cory Carlyle
        Jenifer Wicks                       President                        Cary Clennon
                                    Patricia A. Cresta-Savage                Ronald Earnest
         Secretary                       (202) 393-1666                       June Perrone
       Richard Gilbert                (202) 393-6266 (Fax)                   David Richter

                                                                                  October 9, 2012
Honorable Phil Mendelson
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 402
Washington, DC 20004

                            Re: DCACDL Comments on Bill 19-880

Dear Committee on the Judiciary,

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on Bill 19-880, The Innocence Protection Amendment
Act. The District of Columbia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers supports this bill.

When a person is charged with a criminal offense in the District of Columbia, the U.S. Attorney
does not immediately disclose all of the evidence it has gathered in the course of its
investigation. Unlike many jurisdictions, it often turns over limited discovery, consisting of one
or two redacted police reports, masking information such as witness names and addresses. Based
on this narrow insight, the defense team then has to guess what other evidence and information
the government might have in its possession and request that it be made available for inspection.
Sometimes, disclosures are made so late that they are of little value; e.g., video footage has been
recorded over, an eyewitness is now unavailable.

As a result, there is an increased likelihood that at the time of trial evidence will remain
unexamined and questions unasked. This means defendants in DC are at greater risk of being
wrongfully convicted. Sadly, if a person is fairly tried but wrongfully convicted, he may be
without recourse under the law.

The District of Columbia’s Innocence Protection Act is grounded in principles of equity and
fairness. It affords the parallel access to biological evidence to the accuser and the accused. We
support bill 19-880 because it expands the IPA to include discovery and inspection of additional
materials, such as invisible skin cells, made relevant by advances in the scope of DNA testing.

Thank you.


                                            /s/ PATRICE A. SULTON
                                            Patrice A. Sulton
                                            Legislative Committee, DCACDL


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