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Posts Tagged ‘California’

John Doe DNA Warrants Upheld In California

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 3:10 PM
Monday, July 30, 2012

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court of California (January 25,2010) ruled 5-2 to authorize the use of “John Doe” DNA arrest warrants. California law, consistent with the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment holds that prosecution for an offense commences when an arrest warrant is issued and “names or describes the defendant with the same degree of particularity required for a complaint.”

In a brief overview DNA.gov discusses the proper preparation of a John Doe DNA Warrant. It states that “if no offender match occurs in cases which statutes of limitation are an issue, consideration may be given, in consultation with the prosecutor to prepare a John Doe warrant. These types of warrants can identify the perpetrator according to his or her DNA profile. The 13 loci profile generated by the crime laboratory should be clearly printed on the face of the warrant”.

In a the case of Paul Eugene Robinson, a man charged with raping a Sacramento woman in 1994 a warrant was issued three days before the 6-year statute of limitation ran out in August of 2000, this warrant describing only the suspect’s DNA profile. That profile was then linked to Robinson through the California Department of Justice Laboratory SDIS system. Mr. Robinson had been convicted on sexual assault charges previously. {JURIST, Sarah Miley}

Supporters of the John Doe DNA indictments say it is a legitimate way to vindicate victims, prevent offenders from escaping justice, and prevent future crimes. Without the start of prosecution, a case cannot be tried once the statute of limitations has run. This means that if a suspect is identified one day beyond the statutory limit, he cannot be tried for the offense.

Critics argue that issuing an arrest warrant based on a DNA profile is a disingenuous device of the prosecution that evades the statute of limitations and infringes on the constitutional rights of the accused. In the dissenting opinion in the Robinson case, Judge Carlos Moreno stated “the warrant did not become effective until a fictitious name is replaced with the suspect’s real name, and at that point the statute of limitations had expired”.

While the John Doe warrant appears to be in place in California there are still many challenges for it to face before it becomes common practice.

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Paternity Fraud – Still An Issue

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 12:09 PM
Thursday, July 26, 2012

In 2007 Bert Riddick escaped a child-support order for a girl he says he has never met and has proof that he is not her father.  Thanks to a 2004 California Law.  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill to allow men to challenge the paternity of children for whom they owe support.  A similar law came before Governor Davis in 2002 but he chose to veto it. In explaining his veto, Davis said that if AB 2240 became law the state might not meet federal requirements on collecting child-support payments, putting California at risk of losing $40 million in federal funds.

After Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the new bill into law Carnell Smith, founder of the U.S. Citizens Against Paternity Fraud based out of Decatur, GA stated, “It’s well overdue.”  His orgonization counts California as the 24th state with some type of “paternity fraud” law.  The California law will help thousands of men who have been assigned child support orders “by default,” as well as men who signed “confessions of paternity” said Mr. Smith.  This is a personal issue for Mr. Smith, who successfully lobbied for a “paternity fraud” law in Georgia after discovering he was paying for a child he did not father.

California’s new law sets time limits on paternity challenges like many other paternity fraud laws. In California Men can file protests within two years of being ordered to pay child support or within two years of the child’s birth.

Men such as Mr. Riddick, who have known for years they are supporting someone else’s child, also will now be able to challenge their child-support orders under the law.

Advocates said that, the California law passed the Legislature with virtually unanimous support because it was a compromise bill.  A stronger “paternity fraud” bill had been offered in the state Senate, according to lawyer Marc Angelucci, a leader of the National Coalition of Free Men. However, the Senate bill, was opposed by California child- support officials as well as feminist groups who viewed it as a “get-out-of-jail-free card.”

There has been a growing sence of alarmed between Feminist and child-support groups concerning the growing support for what they refer to as the paternity “disestablishment.” They argue that biology is not always paramount in family relationships, and ending established support for a child is rarely in the child’s best interest.

Stories like Mr. Riddick’s are not uncommon.  He stated that he was assigned a child support payment by default after an ex-girlfriend named him the father of her child. Mr. Riddick said he found out he wasn’t the father in 1996 two years after the child support order went into effect when he was arrested as “a deadbeat dad.” The criminal-court judge ordered DNA testing for Mr. Riddick, the mother and the child. “It showed I had a 0 percent chance of being the father of this child,” he said.

The criminal-court judge threw out the charge, but when Mr. Riddick tried to get his child- support order overturned in civil court, state officials refused.  ”They said the criminal court case had nothing to do with the civil case and I would still have to pay child support for 18 years,” Mr. Riddick said. “And I’ve never even seen this kid.”

While many states have started to enact paternity fraud laws and allow men to challenge paternity not all do.  You need to know your states individual paternity laws and seek help if you find your self in over your head.


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Paternity Fraud Hasn’t Gone Away

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 12:39 PM
Thursday, December 30, 2010

Laws about child support and child custody are different from state to state all of them require that there is solid proof that a relationship exists. If you want to get custody of a child you need to prove that you are related to that child. Unfortunately there are still situations where paternity is “assigned.”  Paternity is “assigned” when, a child is born to the wife during a marriage this is called “presumption of legitimacy”, and the husband is assigned complete rights, duties and obligations as to the child.  In the case of an unwed mother, a man may come forward and accept the paternity of the child, or the mother may petition the court for a determination, or paternity can be determined over time by showing that a man has been supporting a child in the ways of a father.

Non of those ways of determining paternity actually answers the question about who the father is. Many states have started to in act what are called paternity fraud laws which give a man the chance to dispute his role as the father. Traditionally relationships between parties were often determined by what was “reasonable” to assume. With DNA technology available for widespread use it has caused a change in the way paternity claims are dealt with.

More often than ever before a large group of shocked possible fathers are discovering that the children they’ve raised as their own are not biologically theirs. The mental impact of such a discovery can range from distressing to devastating, there is additional emotional distress when the man who has been known as the child’s father suddenly understands that he’s paid years of child support payments, sometimes many, many thousands of dollars, for another man’s child.

A great example is the case of Bert Riddick of California. As reported in a Los Angeles Times story Mr. Riddick was getting ready to leave on a business trip when his fiance discovered a court summons. In that summons Riddick was called forward as the father of his ex-girlfriend’s baby. Riddick had to attend to business elsewhere and didn’t go to the hearing. On his return he discovered that his wages were already being garnished. He had fallen victim to a common practice of declaring a man “guilty” by default.  Bert Riddick was declared the father because he had not proven otherwise.  This ruling destroyed Riddick’s new family financially. The Riddick family was forced to rely on the kindness of relatives who allowed them to stay in their home, the Riddick children in a tiny room together. Though Riddick’s life had been brought to ruin and his family became destitute. A simple home DNA test eventually proved that Bert Riddick was not the father of the child he’d had his wages garnished for all these years, but it wasn’t until years later that the State of California released him from the financial obligation to a child that wasn’t biologically his.

Another good example is the case of Doug Richardson of Michigan who, paid child support for fifteen years on a child that wasn’t his.  He paid roughly $80,000 in support. Mr Richardson claimed in the Detroit News that not only was he supporting a child who was not his, but he was financially supporting the child’s biological father a man involved with Richardson’s ex-wife. Mr. Richardson says he’s been tormented by this issue for the last fifteen years. Richardson was forced to file bankruptcy because he couldn’t pay his bills, back taxes and the penalties that go with them.

Fraudulent child support collections have destroyed the lives of many men.  A dozen other states offer legal protection to men who disprove paternity in such cases but still others do not. In 2005 almost twenty five percent of the states DNA paternity tests done for children born out-of-wedlock proved to be negative. In Georgia, if a man proves that he is not a child’s father his child support order will be ended. Maryland no longer has a limit on how long one can take to challenge a paternity case, something a lot of other states are looking at seriously. DNA paternity testing is now an established and important legal part of many paternity cases in the United States.

If you have any doubts or questions about the paternity of a child you might be supporting look into your states paternity law and get a DNA paternity test.  Knowledge is the best protection you have.

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Familial DNA Testing May Target Minority Communities

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 3:00 PM
Friday, October 1, 2010

Concern spreads as familial DNA testing becomes more widespread.  Familial DNA is becoming more widely used to help capture suspects, the worry is that familial DNA testing may result in minority communities being unfairly targeted.

Peter Bibring, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California stated that, since familial DNA was successfully used in the capture of Lonnie David Franklin Jr., the alleged Grim Sleeper who killed 11 victims between 1985 and 2007.  Because of this successful use of familial DNA testing, prosecutors have begun to argue that it should be more widely used. However, groups like the ACLU argue that the technique not only raises issues of constitutionality and rights to privacy, but fairness.

While in a traditional DNA forensic analysis, police take a DNA sample that has been recovered from a crime scene. That DNA is analyzed (a profile is created) and then the profile is compared to a database of DNA taken from convicted felons.  This search is looking for an exact match between a convicted felons’ DNA profile and the profile from the forensic sample.

Familial DNA looks not for an exact match but for partial matches.  They both use a database of convicted criminals DNA profile.  In Familial DNA testing if there are partial matches, then there is an assumption that the forensic sample may be from somebody who is related to the convicted felon whose DNA was a partial match. All the police have to do then is look at the person’s family (including obtaining DNA samples) and see if one of them might be the perpetrator.

The issue that the American Civil Liberties Union is that because Familial DNA testing relies on partial matching they are not completely accurate and that they widen the number of people who could fall under suspicion and be investigated by police.

The American Civil Liberties Union believes that because the criminal justice system disproportionately arrests and convicts people of color, they are therefore over-represented in the DNA databases used to conduct these test, leading to communities of color being adversely affected by familial searches which extend beyond the offender and include the offender’s family.

Attorney Daniel Grimm wrote in an article that, “the databank system is not racially neutral.  Over time this scenario risks constructing stigmatic myths about ethnicity and criminal conduct that can be devastating to those affected.”  The arcicle titled “The Demographics of Genetic Surveillance: Familial DNA Testing and the Hispanic Community” was published by the Columbia Law Review. Grimm goes on to point out that due in part to population growth, high arrest and conviction rates the Hispanic community will be affected more by Familial DNA testing than any other racial group.

While the ACLU worries about the over representation of minority communities professor Erin Murphy, with the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, is concerned with the possible contamination of samples, and intentionally malfeasant analysts.  According to Erin Murphy Familial DNA testing, relies not just on the genetic information being accurate, it also on a DNA analyst’s ability to reason, processes of elimination, subjective judgment calls and inferences.

The only fair solution is to have a universal DNA database, where all members of society have their DNA logged, or to to restrict familial searching to extremely serious cases where all other leads have been exhausted, according to Jennifer Mnookin a professor of law at UCLA.

In the Grim Sleeper case, California Attorney General Jerry Brown only allowed Familial DNA searching after all other investigative leads had been exhausted. Investigators did not knock on doors for all the possible matches.  Instead they refined their list of suspects based on additional DNA tests and circumstantial evidence.  Such as evidence that revealed the suspect lived in the area where the murders took place or that the suspect could have committed the crimes over the two decades which gave insight as to his possible age. In addition prior to going public, investigators obtained an exact DNA match between their Familial search suspect and the forensic evidence.

What worries organization like the ACLU and many others is that widespread use of Familial DNA testing is that there will be a lack of oversight and law enforcement will not take the same strong precautions  that were taken in the Grim Sleeper case.  According to reports, the Denver District Attorney has already used familial DNA testing in less serious crimes, such as car thefts and burglaries. Familial DNA testing is something that is in use and probably won’t be going away.  It is now up to the courts to determine how widely used the process becomes.

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ACLU Challenging California DNA Laws

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 2:16 PM
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The ACLU is challenging the California law that requires police to collect the DNA from all suspected felons.  Michael Risher an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union told the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco court that the government should not be allowed to take the “genetic blueprint” of someone who hasn’t been convicted of a crime.  One-third of the 300,000 Californians arrested on felony charges each year are never convicted.  This does not stop the police from talking their DNA sample.

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The Plight Of The Single Dad

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 1:49 PM
Wednesday, December 23, 2009

By Michael Cole

For many years now we have been hearing about how hard it is to be a single mother. They have to hold down a job, maintain a household IE cook, clean, do laundry etc. They in effect have two very demanding full time jobs.

I think it is outstanding that there are so many programs designed to allow a single mom live with dignity. They have access to free or reduced cost child day care. There is “WIC” Women, Infants, and Children. There are education grants,reduced cost housing, free job training, and the list just goes on.

Google “single moms” and you get 19,500,000 results. Lots of programs geared to the the single mom.

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New Law Can Order Parents Of Young Gang Members To Attend Parenting Classes

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 1:25 PM
Wednesday, December 23, 2009

By Alvaro Castillo
Lawmakers hope a new bill being enacted this year will reduce California’s gang violence. Here are the Facts First:

• The Parental Accountability Act allows courts to order parents of young gang members to attend parenting classes.
• Courses will teach parents how to identify gang and drug activity in their kids.
• They will also learn better communication skills with their children.

Gang violence has been in the forefront in Santa Barbara this year. Police have identified 700 gang members living in the city. The new law will hold parents of gang members accountable for their children’s actions.

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