Summary: H.R.3214 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (11/05/2003)

Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act of 2003 - Title I: Debbie Smith Act of 2003 - Debbie Smith Act of 2003 - (Sec. 102) Amends the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 (Backlog Act) to rename its grant program the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program. Expands the program to allow grants to units of local governments as well as States. Directs that grants go toward timely analyses of DNA samples, including samples from rape kits, samples from other sexual assault evidence, and from cases without an identified suspect.

Directs the Attorney General to distribute grant amounts and establish appropriate grant conditions in conformity with formulas designed to distribute funds among States and local governments in a manner that: (1) maximizes the use of DNA technology to solve crimes and protect public safety; and (2) allocates grants fairly and efficiently to address jurisdictions in which significant backlogs exist by considering the number of samples awaiting DNA analysis, the population, and the number of part 1 violent crimes in a jurisdiction.

Requires the Attorney General to allocate to each State not less than .5 percent of the total amount appropriated in a fiscal year for grants, except that the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands shall each be allocated .125 percent of the total. Sets forth additional limitations for FY 2005 through 2009. Authorizes appropriations. Authorizes the Attorney General to distribute up to one percent of the grant amounts for accreditation or reaccreditation, and for audits and remedial efforts.

(Sec. 103) Amends the DNA Identification Act of 1994 (Identification Act) to allow States to include within the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) the DNA profiles of all persons who have been indicted or who have waived indictment for a crime, and whose DNA samples have been collected under applicable legal authorities, but not profiles from samples voluntarily submitted solely for elimination purposes. Requires, as a condition for access to CODIS, that a State promptly expunge the DNA analysis of a person not convicted if all charges have been dismissed or resulted in acquittal. Lists qualifying Federal offenses (any felony, sexual abuse, crimes of violence, or an attempt or conspiracy to commit any such offenses) and military offenses (those under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for which a sentence of confinement for more than one year may be imposed, or that is comparable to a qualifying Federal offense).

Amends the Identification Act to require the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to ensure that any person who is authorized to access CODIS for purposes of including information on DNA identification records or DNA analyses may access CODIS for a keyboard search.

(Sec. 104) Amends the Federal criminal code to provide that no statute of limitations that would otherwise apply shall preclude prosecution of a person for commission of a felony until a period of time equal to the otherwise applicable limitation period has elapsed following the implication of the person by DNA testing.

(Sec. 105) Amends the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 to make legal assistance available for victims of dating violence.

(Sec. 106) Amends the Backlog Act to allow a backlog elimination grant to be made in the form of a contract (currently limited to a voucher) for laboratory services.

Title II: DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act of 2003 - DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act of 2003 - (Sec. 202) Amends the Identification Act to direct that CODIS only include information on DNA identification records and analyses that are prepared by laboratories that: (1) have been accredited by a nationally recognized nonprofit professional association of persons actively involved in forensic science; and (2) undergo external audits that demonstrate compliance with standards established by the FBI Director.

(Sec. 203) Directs the Attorney General to make grants to eligible entities to provide training, technical assistance, education, and information relating to the identification, collection, preservation, analysis, and use of DNA samples and DNA evidence to: (1) organizations consisting of or representing law enforcement personnel, court officers, forensic science professionals, or corrections personnell; and (2) States, local governments, and sexual assault examination programs for medical and other personnel involved in treating victims of sexual assault.

(Sec. 205) Directs the Attorney General to make grants: (1) for research and development to improve forensic DNA technology; (2) ,to appropriate entities for research through demonstration projects involving coordinated training and commitment of resources to law enforcement agencies and key criminal justice participants to demonstrate and evaluate the use of forensic DNA technology in conjunction with other forensic tools; and (3) States and local governments to promote the use of forensic DNA technology to identify missing persons and unidentified human remains.

(Sec. 206) Directs the Attorney General to appoint a National Forensic Science Commission.

(Sec. 209) Amends the Backlog Act to prohibit the use of a DNA sample without authorization. Makes each instance of unauthorized disclosure, obtaining, or use of a sample a separate offense.

(Sec. 210)) Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to direct the Attorney General to award grants to established nonprofit, nongovernmental tribal coalitions and to individuals or organizations that propose to incorporate as nonprofit, nongovernmental tribal coalitions addressing domestic violence and sexual assault against Indian women.

(Sec. 211) Expands the Paul Coverdell Forensic Sciences Improvement Grant Program to authorize the use of grants to: (1) eliminate a backlog in the analysis of forensic science evidence, including firearms examination, latent prints, toxicology, controlled substances, forensic pathology, questionable documents, and trace evidence; and (2) train, assist, and employ forensic laboratory personnel as needed to eliminate such a backlog.

Requires a State, to request a grant, to submit to the Attorney General a certification that a government entity exists and an appropriate process is in place to conduct independent external investigations into allegations of serious negligence or misconduct substantially affecting the integrity of the forensic results committed by employees or contractors of any forensic laboratory system, medical examiner's officer, or coroner's office in the State that will receive a portion of the grant amount.

Extends the authorization of appropriations for the Coverdell Grant Program for three years.

(Sec. 212) Directs the Attorney General to submit to Congress a report on the implementation of this Act.

Title III: Innocence Protection Act of 2003 - Innocence Protection Act of 2003 - Subtitle A: Exonerating the Innocent Through DNA Testing - (Sec. 311) Amends the Federal criminal code to establish procedures for post-conviction DNA testing in Federal court. Directs the court, upon a written motion by an individual under a sentence of imprisonment or death, to order DNA testing of specific evidence if: (1) the applicant asserts, under penalty of perjury, that the applicant is innocent; (2) the evidence was secured in relation to the offense; (3) the evidence was not previously subjected to DNA testing and the applicant did not waive the right to request testing, or the evidence was previously subjected to DNA testing and the applicant is requesting DNA testing using a new method or technology that is substantially more probative; (4) the evidence is in the Government's possession and has been subject to a chain of custody and retained under conditions sufficient to ensure that it has not been substituted, contaminated, tampered with, replaced, or altered in any material respect; (5) the proposed DNA testing is reasonable in scope, uses scientifically sound methods, and is consistent with accepted forensic practices; (6) the applicant identifies a defense theory that is not inconsistent with an affirmative defense presented at trial and that would establish the applicant's innocence; (7) the applicant was convicted following a trial and the perpetrator's identity was at issue in the trial; (8) the proposed DNA testing would produce new material evidence to support the defense theory and, assuming the DNA test result excludes the applicant, would raise a reasonable probability that the applicant did not commit the offense; (9) the applicant certifies that the applicant will provide a DNA sample for purposes of comparison; and (10) the applicant's motion is filed for the purpose of demonstrating actual innocence and not to delay the execution of the sentence or the administration of justice.

Sets forth provisions regarding notice to the Government, an order to preserve specific evidence, and appointment of counsel.

Requires the court to direct that any DNA testing ordered be carried out by the FBI, with an exception. Directs that the costs of such testing be paid by the applicant unless the applicant is indigent. Sets time limitations for such testing in capital cases.

Directs that: (1) the results of any DNA testing be simultaneously disclosed to the court, the applicant, and the Government; and (2) the Government submit any test results relating to an applicant's DNA to the National DNA Index System (NDIS). Sets forth provisions regarding retention of DNA samples (and matching with other offenses), procedures where the results are inconclusive and where they are inculpatory, and sentencing of an applicant for false assertions under this section.

Authorizes the applicant to file a motion for a new trial or resentencing if DNA test results exclude the applicant as the source of the DNA evidence. Requires the court to: (1) establish a reasonable schedule for the applicant to file such a motion and for the Government to respond; and (2) grant the applicant's motion for a new trial or resentencing if the DNA test results, when considered with all other evidence in the case (regardless of whether introduced at trial), establish by a preponderance of the evidence that a new trial would result in an acquittal, subject to specified requirements.

Requires the Government to preserve biological evidence that was secured in the investigation or prosecution of a Federal offense if a defendant is under a sentence of imprisonment for such offense. Sets criminal penalties for the intentional destruction of, or tampering with, biological evidence. Provides that nothing in this section shall provide a basis for relief in any Federal habeas corpus proceeding.

Directs: (1) the Attorney General to establish a system for reporting and tracking motions under this subtitle, and to report to Congress regarding such motions; and (2) the Federal courts to provide to the Attorney General any requested assistance in operating and ensuring the accuracy and completeness of information included in that system.

(Sec. 312) Directs the Attorney General to establish the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Grant Program to award grants to States to help defray the costs of post-conviction DNA testing.

(Sec. 313) Reserves certain funds to eligible entities that meet requirements of this Act and that demonstrate that the States in which they operate provide post-conviction DNA testing of specified evidence and preserve biological evidence.

Subtitle B: Improving the Quality of Representation in State Capital Cases - (Sec. 321) Directs the Attorney General to award grants to States to improve the quality of legal representation provided to indigent defendants in State capital cases. Directs that grants awarded: (1) be used to establish, implement, or improve an effective system for providing competent legal representation to indigents who have been charged with an offense subject to capital punishment, who have been sentenced to death and who seek appellate or collateral relief in State court, and who have been sentenced to death and who seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court; and (2) not be used to fund representation in specific capital cases. Requires that an effective system invest the responsibility for appointing qualified attorneys to represent indigents in capital cases: (1) in a public defender program that relies on staff attorneys, members of the private bar, or both, to provide representation; (2) in an entity that is established by statute or by the highest State court with jurisdiction in criminal cases and that is composed of individuals with demonstrated knowledge and expertise in capital representation; or (3) pursuant to a statutory procedure enacted before this Act's enactment under which the trial judge is required to appoint qualified attorneys from a roster maintained by a State or regional selection committee or similar entity.

(Sec. 322) Directs the Attorney General to: (1) award grants to States to improve the representation of the public in State capital cases; and (2) establish a process through which a State may apply for a grant. Requires each State receiving funds to submit an annual report to the Attorney General that: (1) identifies the activities carried out with such funds; and (2) explains how each activity complies with the terms and conditions of the grant. Sets forth specific requirements regarding reporting of capital representation improvement grants and capital prosecution improvement grants.

(Sec. 325) Directs the Inspector General of the Department of Justice to: (1) report to Congress and the Attorney General evaluating State compliance with grant conditions; and (2) grant evaluation priority to States deemed to be at the highest risk of noncompliance. Requires the Inspector General, for each State that employs a statutory procedure, to submit to Congress and to the Attorney General a determination as to whether the State is in substantial compliance with the requirements of the applicable State statute. Limits the allocation of funds to States not in compliance. Directs the Attorney General to provide the State with an opportunity to comment regarding the report's findings or the determination. Sets forth provisions regarding corrective action, the Attorney General's report to Congress, penalties for noncompliance, periodic reports to review States' compliance, and administrative costs.

(Sec. 326) Requires each State receiving a grant to allocate the funds equally between uses specified in this subtitle.

Subtitle C: Compensation for the Wrongfully Convicted - (Sec. 331) Amends the Federal judicial code to increase the compensation in Federal cases for persons wrongfully convicted.

(Sec. 332) Expresses the sense of Congress that States should provide reasonable compensation to any person found to have been unjustly convicted of an offense against the State and sentenced to death.