Good news for Hank Skinner: USSC Justice Ginsburg, writing for the majority, said prison inmates may use a federal civil rights law to seek DNA testing that was not performed before their conviction. Lower federal courts had dismissed Skinner’s claims at an early stage, although other federal judges have allowed similar lawsuits to go forward in other parts of the country.
Justice Ginsburg said it is by no means clear that Skinner can prevail in his lawsuit and actually gain access to the evidence for testing. Even if he does win in court, she said, testing the evidence “may prove exculpatory, inculpatory or inconclusive.”
The court’s narrow, 6-3 ruling means that Hank Skinner will not be put to death soon while his legal case continues.
From the Huffington Post: “The case now will be returned to a federal district court to consider whether Skinner’s claim has any merit. The district court, along with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, earlier dismissed his case. Federal judges in other parts of the nation have allowed similar lawsuits to go forward.” The case is Skinner v. Switzer, 09-9000. More here.