‘SCOTUS Talks’ series begins Sept. 16 with District Attorney v. Osborne

Wake Forest University School of Law’s speaker series, “SCOTUS Talks,” kicks off this fall at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 16, in Room 1312 of the Worrell Professional Center with Professor Carol Turowski, co-director of the law school’s Innocence and Justice Clinic, and her presentation on District Attorney’s Office v. Osborne, decided this summer, which gives a glimpse into the U.S. Supreme Court’s views on DNA testing.

Law faculty members discuss recent and pending Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) cases throughout the academic year. The talks are at noon during the activities hour in the large courtroom with food provided. Students have the opportunity to raise questions about the implications of these important cases.

“Students won’t want to miss this series where professors give insights and updates on past and present U.S. Supreme Court decisions,” said Ann Gibbs, Associate Dean, Administrative and Student Services.

Here’s an overview of the case: “It is undeniable that DNA evidence has revolutionized how law enforcement, prosecutors and defense attorneys carry out their responsibilities in the criminal justice system. The Supreme Court gave us its views on the importance of DNA testing and the role it plays in solving crimes in the case of District Attorney et. al. v. Osborne, which was decided this summer. Mr. Osborne is an Alaskan inmate who requested advanced DNA testing to be performed on the evidence that was used against him at trial in order to substantiate his claim that he is innocent of the charges for which he was tried and convicted of. Contrary to what many in the wrongful conviction field had hoped, the Court held that prisoners do not have a Constitutional right to DNA testing that might prove their innocence. Despite Chief Justice John Roberts’s initial declaration that DNA testing is “unparalleled in its ability to both exonerate the wrongly convicted and to identify the guilty…” the Court, in a five to four decision, was unwilling to extend constitutional protections to post-conviction inmates to provide them with access to DNA that could lead to their exoneration.”

Other tentative Fall SCOTUS dates are:
• Monday, Oct. 12: Professors Reynolds, Wright and Shapiro on the Sotomayor Selection
• Wednesday, Oct. 21: Professor Curtis, Davis v. FEC (declaring unconstitutional campaign finance law allowing greater public spending by persons running against millionaires)
• Monday, Nov. 16 : Dean Morant, Reflections on Brown v. Board of Education