SANTA ANA, Calif. – A Superior Court judge has ruled the OCDA DNA collection program is legally authorized by law and rejected a lawsuit filed by professors and students at the University of California, Irvine School challenging the program’s constitutionality, declaring the lawsuit lacks sufficient evidence to proceed.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer issued the following statement on the ruling:
The OCDA DNA collection program has solved crimes that would have never been solved.
This ruling comes as no surprise as this program is clearly authorized by law. This frivolous lawsuit was never about the law; it was merely an attempt by UCI Law School to weaponize the court system to attack a program it simply doesn’t like. Thankfully the Court saw through UCI’s Law’s attempts to stomp their feet like a petulant child.
In making his ruling, Judge William D. Claster agreed that participation in this program is completely voluntary, is in no way coercive, and involves multiple layers of safeguards to ensure absolute voluntary participation, including a judge’s ability to reject the defendant’s plea if he or she is concerned the defendant does not understand the ramifications of participating.
The fact that an unrepresented defendant could confer with an attorney prior to agreeing to participate in the voluntary program also debunks any allegation of coercion, Judge Claster reasoned.
Murder charges were filed against two brothers in 2009 for strangling a woman to death and setting her body on fire. The break in the case: one of the brothers had submitted his DNA in connection with a misdemeanor plea earlier that year.
A man charged in Orange County with a misdemeanor for violating a restraining order in 2011 agreed to provide his DNA. His DNA matched evidence from a 2004 rape, kidnapping, and robbery in Chandler, Arizona.
Sex offenders, kidnappers, and residential burglars have been put behind bars as a result of their decision to willingly give their DNA to the OCDA DNA database. Their DNA helped connect them to more serious crimes – and provided justice for their victims.
This is not a numbers game. It is not about percentages. It is about real victims – and every single victim deserves justice. The OCDA DNA collection program assists in the pursuit of justice.
The OCDA DNA collection program is lawful – and effective. That fact is indisputable. And it is a fact worth repeating.
UCI Professor Thompson is simply wrong on the law and he is wrong on the facts. The Court agrees.
Recidivism – the chance a criminal is going to reoffend – is reduced by 43 percent in the year after an individual submits their DNA, according to University of Virginia professor Jennifer Doleac’s 2017 study “The effects of DNA databases on the deterrence and detention of offenders.” The OCDA DNA program protects the public, prevents additional victimization, and provides individuals with a path out of the criminal justice system.
And it is clearly allowed under the law.
This program helps to reduce the number of incarcerated individuals in Orange County while having a significant positive impact on preventing future crime – and preventing people from ever becoming crime victims.
This is something to be applauded.
My efforts to reach out to discuss the program – and its benefits – have been met with silence.
UCI Law School should issue a public apology for attacking a program that helps to keep our communities safe.
I certainly hope UCI Law School does a better job educating students to become lawyers than it does teaching them wasting public resources to attack lawful programs just because they don’t agree with them.
The taxpayers deserves better than that.