On Friday, November 9, 2012, the Supreme Court announced that it would review Maryland v. King next year, and in the process rule on the constitutionality of the state’s controversial DNA collection law, which allowed police to obtain a DNA sample from arrestees suspected of violent crimes or burglary for comparison against the state’s database before they are found guilty of the underlying crime. When Alonzo Jay King Jr. was arrested on assault charges in 2009, he information gleaned by the comparison was used to convict King of a 2003 rape, and the state’s Office of the Public Defender appealed the conviction on the grounds that extracting the DNA sample from an arrestee was a violation of Fourth Amendment protections. The Maryland Court of Appeals agreed, ruling that obtainment of DNA evidence for the purpose of a speculative search of crime data for comparison did in fact violate King’s right to freedom from unreasonable and unwarranted search.
The Supreme Court signaled its intent to review the case when it granted the state of Maryland a stay in July, and the King decision promises to be a landmark ruling which will draw the boundaries of law enforcement’s authority to collect scientific evidence from arrestees. The implications of the King decision case will be highlighted in our March symposium and Volume 42, Issue 3, as we await word from the Court.