Last modified: Thursday, February 25, 2010
Federal, state judges will preside over DNA case at law school
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 25, 2010
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A panel of distinguished jurists, including the chief justice of Indiana and one of the state's four appointees to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago, will visit the Indiana University Maurer School of Law on Friday (Feb. 26) at 7 p.m. to hear arguments on an issue at the forefront of debate over technology, privacy rights, and law enforcement -- the constitutionality of collecting and storing DNA evidence from those arrested on certain federal charges.
The arguments will be part of the final round of the law school's annual Sherman Minton Moot Court Competition. This year, more than 125 students competed in the tournament-style competition in which they play the role of appellate lawyers representing clients in a realistic setting.
Judging the final round Friday are Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard; Judge John D. Tinder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana; Roderick Morgan, president of the Indiana State Bar Association and partner at Bingham McHale LLP in Indianapolis; and IU Maurer School of Law Dean Lauren Robel.
This year's participants will argue a case based closely on actual events. Both federal and state courts are examining the constitutionality of compulsory DNA laws, including federal regulations that went into effect last year requiring law enforcement to take and keep DNA samples from anyone arrested for certain federal crimes, regardless of whether the DNA sample is needed to solve the crime or the citizen is later exonerated.
Professor Seth Lahn, faculty advisor for the Moot Court program, noted the timeliness of Friday's argument, about the proper balance between citizens' privacy rights in a free society and the needs of law enforcement in an age of terrorism. "There are at least three cases currently before federal courts of appeals about whether sweeping DNA collection statutes, like the ones that exist in more than 20 states in addition to the federal level, are 'unreasonable searches' under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," Lahn said.
"The final round of the Sherman Minton Moot Court Competition marks the culmination of nearly a year-long effort in which students have refined their oral and written advocacy skills," said third-year student Eric Rey, who serves as the chief justice of the competition. "Participating in the competition gives students the opportunity to exhibit many of the skills they have learned while in law school."
Friday's event, in room 123 of the IU Maurer School of Law, is open to the public and will be followed by a reception on the third floor of the school. The competition is named after Indiana's only appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sherman M. Minton. A 1915 graduate of the IU law school, Minton served on the court from 1949 to 1955 and took part in a number of historic decisions, including Brown v. Board of Education.