Summary: H.R.4167 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.4167. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (04/04/2000)

Innocence Protection Act of 2000 - Title I: Exonerating the Innocent through DNA Testing - Amends the Federal judicial code to authorize a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a court established by an Act of Congress, at any time after conviction, to apply to the court that entered the judgment for forensic DNA testing of any biological material that: (1) is related to the investigation or prosecution that resulted in the judgment; (2) is in the actual or constructive possession of the Government; and (3) was not previously subjected to DNA testing, or can be subjected to retesting with new DNA techniques that provide a reasonable likelihood of more accurate and probative results.

Sets forth procedures regarding notice to the Government and preservation of remaining biological material. Directs the court to order DNA testing pursuant to such application upon a determination that testing may produce non-cumulative, exculpatory evidence relevant to an applicant's claim that the applicant was wrongfully convicted or sentenced. Specifies that the cost of DNA testing shall be borne by the Government or the applicant, as the court may order in the interests of justice, if it is shown that the applicant is not indigent and possesses the means to pay. Authorizes the court at any time to appoint counsel for an indigent applicant.

Establishes post-testing procedures, including ordering a hearing and entering any order that serves the interests of justice, including an order setting aside the judgment or granting a new trial or re-sentencing if the results of the DNA testing are favorable to the applicant.

Requires the Government to preserve any biological material secured in connection with a criminal case for such period as any person remains incarcerated in connection with that case, with exceptions.

(Sec. 103) Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (Safe Streets Act) to include among the requirements for DNA identification grants, and for drug control and system improvement (Byrne) grants, that the State will: (1) preserve all biological material secured in connection with a State criminal case for not less than the period of time that biological material is required to be preserved under this Act in the case of a person incarcerated in connection with a Federal criminal case (biological material preservation requirements); and (2) make DNA testing available to any person convicted in State court to the same extent, and under the same conditions, that DNA testing is available under this Act to any person convicted in a court established by an Act of Congress.

Makes DNA samples obtained by, and DNA analyses performed at, a forensic laboratory accessible for criminal defense purposes to a defendant, who shall have access to samples and analyses performed in connection with the case in which such defendant was charged or convicted.

Requires applications for public safety and community policing grants, if any part of funds received from such a grant is to be used to develop or improve a DNA analysis capability in a forensic laboratory, or to obtain or analyze DNA samples for inclusion in the Combined DNA Index System, to make specified certifications including that: (1) DNA analyses performed at such laboratory will satisfy or exceed the current standards for a quality assurance program for DNA analysis issued by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the DNA Identification Act of 1994; (2) DNA samples and analyses obtained and performed by such laboratory will be accessible only consistent with specified requirements; (3) the laboratory and each analyst performing DNA analyses at the laboratory will undergo, at regular intervals not exceeding 180 days, external proficiency testing by a DNA proficiency testing program that meets certain standards; and (4) the State will meet biological material preservation requirements.

(Sec. 104) Prohibits a State from denying a request, made by a person in custody resulting from a State court judgment, for DNA testing of biological material that: (1) is related to the investigation or prosecution that resulted in the conviction of the person or the sentence imposed on the person; (2) is in the actual or constructive possession of the State; and (3) was not previously subjected to DNA testing, or can be subjected to retesting with new DNA techniques that provide a reasonable likelihood of more accurate and probative results. Makes an exception upon a judicial determination that testing could not produce non-cumulative evidence establishing a reasonable probability that the person was wrongfully convicted or sentenced.

Bars a State from relying upon a time limit or procedural default rule to deny a person an opportunity to present non-cumulative, exculpatory DNA results in court, or in an executive or administrative forum in which a decision is made in accordance with procedural due process.

Authorizes a person to enforce this section in a civil action for declaratory or injunctive relief, filed either in a State court of general jurisdiction or in U.S. district court. Specifies that no State or State executive or judicial officer shall have immunity from such actions.

Title II: Ensuring Competent Legal Services in Capital Cases - Amends the Safe Streets Act (regarding Byrne grant programs) to require that State applications include, if the State prescribes, authorizes, or permits the death penalty for any offense, a certification that the State has established and maintains an effective system for providing competent legal services to indigents at every phase of a State criminal prosecution in which a death sentence is sought or has been imposed, up to and including direct appellate review and post-conviction review in State court.

Requires the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to promulgate regulations specifying the elements of an "effective system" including: (1) a centralized and independent appointing authority which shall have authority and responsibility to undertake specified activities, such as to recruit attorneys who are qualified to represent indigents in capital proceedings, draft and annually publish a roster of such attorneys, draft and annually publish qualifications and performance standards for such attorneys, and periodically review the roster, monitor attorney performance, provide a mechanism by which members of the Bar may comment on the performance of their peers, and delete the name of any attorney who fails to meet specified requirements; and (2) specified compensation and reimbursement requirements of private attorneys and public defender organizations.

Requires applications for discretionary (justice system improvement) grants to include satisfying such certification requirement.

Requires the Director of the National Institute of Justice to include in a report to Congress on such grants to each State a description and a comparative analysis of the systems established by each State in order to satisfy the certification requirement, including qualifications and performance standards, rates of compensation, and rates of reimbursement.

(Sec. 202) Amends the judicial code to direct the court, in a proceeding instituted by an indigent applicant under sentence of death, to neither presume a finding of fact made by a State court to be correct nor decline to consider a claim on the ground that the applicant failed to raise such claim in State court at the time and in the manner prescribed by State law, unless: (1) the State provided the applicant with legal services at the stage of the State proceedings at which the State court made the finding of fact or the applicant failed to raise the claim; and (2) the legal services the State provided satisfied the regulations promulgated by the Director of the Administrative Office pursuant to the Safe Streets Act.

(Sec. 203) Amends the Federal criminal code to require the Director of the Administrative Office to: (1) award grants to, or enter into contracts with, public or private nonprofit organizations for the purpose of providing defense services in capital cases; and (2) develop guidelines to ensure that defense services provided by recipients of such grants and contracts are consistent with applicable legal and ethical proscriptions governing the duties of counsel in capital cases.

Title III: Compensating the Unjustly Condemned - Rewrites judicial code provisions regarding compensation for unjust imprisonment. Limits the amount of damages awarded to $50,000 for each 12-month period of incarceration, except that a plaintiff who was unjustly sentenced to death may be awarded not more than $100,000 for each 12-month period of incarceration.

Directs the court, in assessing damages, to consider: (1) the circumstances surrounding the unjust conviction, including any misconduct by Federal officers or employees; (2) the length and conditions of the unjust incarceration; and (3) family circumstances, loss of wages, and pain and suffering of the plaintiff.

(Sec. 302) Amends the Safe Streets Act to require applicants for criminal justice facility construction grants to provide reasonable assurance that the applicant, or the State in which it is located, does not prescribe, authorize, or permit the death penalty for any offense, or: (1) has established and maintains an effective procedure by which any person unjustly convicted of an offense against the State and sentenced to death may be awarded reasonable damages upon substantial proof that the person did not commit any of the acts with which the person was charged; and (2) the conviction of that person was reversed or set aside on the ground that the person was not guilty of the offense or offenses of which the person was convicted, the person was found not guilty of such offenses on new trial or rehearing, or the person was pardoned upon the stated ground of innocence and unjust conviction.

Title IV: Miscellaneous Provisions - Amends the criminal code to prohibit the Government from seeking the death penalty in any case initially brought before a U.S. district court that sits in a State that does not prescribe, authorize, or permit the imposition of such penalty for the alleged conduct, except upon written certification of the Attorney General (or designee) that: (1) the State does not have jurisdiction or refuses to assume jurisdiction over the defendant with respect to the alleged conduct; (2) the State has requested that the Government assume jurisdiction; or (3) the offense charged is one of certain listed offenses, including destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities, assassination, kidnapping, and assault of specified Government officials.

(Sec. 402) Rewrites Controlled Substances Act provisions regarding continuing criminal enterprises to direct the court, upon a recommendation that the defendant should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without possibility of release, to sentence the defendant accordingly (otherwise, the court shall impose any lesser sentence that is authorized by law).

(Sec. 403) Rewrites provisions of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 regarding Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-In-Sentencing Incentive Grants to require State applicants to provide assurances to the Attorney General that: (1) the State has implemented policies that provide for the recognition of the rights and needs of crime victims; and (2) in any capital case in which the jury has a role in determining the sentence imposed on the defendant, the court, at the defendant's request, shall inform the jury of all statutorily authorized sentencing options in the particular case, including applicable parole eligibility rules and terms.

(Sec. 404) Requires the Attorney General, within two years and annually thereafter, to prepare and transmit to Congress a report concerning the administration of capital punishment laws by the Government and the States.

Directs the Attorney General or the Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, as appropriate, to ensure that the reports are: (1) distributed to national print and broadcast media; and (2) posted on an Internet website maintained by the Department of Justice.

(Sec. 405) Amends the judicial code to provide that, regarding exhaustion of remedies available in State courts, if the highest court of a State has discretion to decline appellate review of a case or a claim, a petition asking that court to entertain a case or a claim is not an available State court procedure.

(Sec. 406) Expresses the sense of the Senate that the death penalty is disproportionate and offends contemporary standards of decency when applied to a person who is mentally retarded or who had not attained age 18 at the time of the offense.