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Crime, Law and Justice
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Supreme Court Sets Standard For Post-Conviction DNA Testing

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Washington’s Supreme Court may have just made it easier for prison inmates to try to get their convictions overturned through DNA testing.

In a 6 to 3 ruling Thursday, the high court said inmates don’t have to show they’re likely innocent in order to win a post-conviction DNA test.

The ruling stems from the case of Lindsey L. Crumpton who was convicted of breaking into the home of an elderly Bremerton widow in 1993 and raping her multiple times. Years later, Crumpton sought to have a post-conviction review of the DNA evidence. The courts said “no” on the grounds it was unlikely DNA testing would exonerate him.

The Washington Supreme Court though has set a standard that is less rigid. In order to get a new test a convict only has to show that the results of a DNA test could prove their innocence or guilt.

“And in a multiple perpetrator scenario it might not, but in a single perpetrator scenario it might very well,” explained attorney Diane Meyers. She filed a friend of the court brief in this case on behalf of the Innocence Network.

Meyers called the decision “incredibly meaningful” for anyone wrongfully convicted in Washington. But the three dissenting justices warn this ruling will open the floodgates and allow convicted rapists going back 20 years to request and receive post-conviction DNA testing.