© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A crosswalk sign is seen exterior the U.S. Supreme Courtroom constructing in Washington, U.S., June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photograph
By Andrew Chung
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Courtroom justices on Tuesday wrestled over whether or not Texas loss of life row inmate Rodney Reed was too late in bringing a civil rights lawsuit towards state officers who had rejected his requests for DNA testing of crime-scene proof that he hoped would assist exonerate him in his high-profile homicide case.
The justices heard arguments in Reed’s (NASDAQ:) attraction of a decrease courtroom’s ruling that his August 2019 problem to the procedures required beneath Texas legislation permitting prisoners entry to proof that would bear post-conviction DNA testing got here after the expiration of a two-year statute of limitations.
Prevailing within the civil rights lawsuit might open the door to permitting the DNA testing Reed seeks. Reed has contended that the legislation, as interpreted by Texas state courts, is essentially unfair in violation of the U.S. Structure’s assure of due course of.
Reed, who’s Black, was convicted by an all-white jury of the 1996 homicide of a white lady. He has maintained he’s harmless and that DNA proof would assist show it.
The justices throughout Tuesday’s arguments scrutinized Texas Solicitor Basic Judd Stone’s view that Reed ought to have no less than filed swimsuit inside two years of an April 2017 state appeals courtroom’s ruling towards him. Reed’s legal professionals mentioned the clock mustn’t have began on the statute of limitations till after that appeals courtroom denied his demand for a rehearing six months later, in October 2017.
Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch requested Stone in regards to the distinction between these dates.
“Why ought to we desire your view?” Gorsuch requested.
Stone responded, “Rehearing modified nothing in regards to the rights and obligations beneath Texas legislation or the U.S. Structure to Mr. Reed.”
Liberal Justice Elena Kagan pushed again, saying: “That is simply because rehearing was denied. If rehearing had been granted and the choice had been revised, then it will have modified one thing.”
Reed was convicted in 1998 of murdering Stacey Stites, 19, who was discovered raped and strangled along with her personal belt alongside the aspect of a highway in Bastrop County in 1996. Authorities charged Reed after his sperm was discovered contained in the sufferer’s physique. Reed mentioned they’d been having an affair.
He sought DNA testing of sure crime scene proof together with the belt used to unusual Stites, because the “killer’s arms could have left sweat or pores and skin cells” on the gadgets.
Reed’s attorneys and activists have labored to exonerate him, arguing that proof unearthed since his trial factors as an alternative to Stites’ white fiancé, an area police officer, because the killer.
As numerous courts over time dominated towards Reed’s makes an attempt to have his case re-examined based mostly on what he referred to as newly found proof, Reed garnered public assist together with from celebrities reminiscent of Kim Kardashian and Rihanna. Hundreds of thousands of individuals have signed a web based petition supporting Reed.
A trial courtroom in 2014 denied his bid for DNA testing. The Texas Courtroom of Felony Appeals additionally rejected it in April 2017 based mostly on the procedures it decided had been required beneath the state legislation that offers prisoners an opportunity to hunt post-conviction DNA testing. That courtroom denied a requirement for rehearing six months later.
Reed sued in federal courtroom in August 2019. The New Orleans-based fifth U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals final 12 months determined that Reed ought to have filed swimsuit inside two years of the preliminary 2014 trial courtroom resolution.