Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rarely Invoked "All Writs Jurisdiction" Used To Order State To Upload DNA Profile To NDIS

Today, the Florida Supreme Court issued an order and exercised its rarely used "all writs jurisdiction," provided in art. V, § 3(b)(7) of the Florida Constitution. The constitutional provision states that the supreme court "May issue writs of prohibition to courts and all writs necessary to the complete exercise of its jurisdiction." 

Hildwin v. State of Florida (SC10-1082) involved an all writs petition filed by a prisoner, sentenced to death, "seeking an order from this Court directing the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to upload the DNA profile from semen and saliva found on items at the crime scene into the National DNA Index System (NDIS) so that it may be compared in CODIS (the Combined DNA Index System) with forensic profiles obtained from other crime scenes and the profiles of known offenders."

The state argued "that the petition is procedurally barred [and] also contended that the profile may not be eligible to upload and that factual development as to the profile's eligibility may be appropriate." The court had previously determined it had jurisdiction and relinquished jurisdiction to the "circuit court for fact-finding as to the profile's eligibility to be uploaded and manually searched in the [DNA] databases." The circuit court held the hearing and concluded that the DNA was from “an unknown source derived from forensic evidence which has some nexus to the crime scene, crime investigation, and „evidence‟ at trial, and which cannot unambiguously . . . be attributed to an identifiable individual not a perpetrator in the homicide."

After returning from the circuit court, the Florida Supreme Court held:
Having reviewed the record and the facts of this case, we conclude that competent, substantial evidence supports the circuit court's finding that the profile is eligible to be uploaded into NDIS.  We conclude that the profile at issue is probative and meets the requirements of NDIS Procedure 6.4.2.  Accordingly, we hereby grant Hildwin's all writs petition and order the State to ensure that the profile is promptly uploaded into the forensic index in NDIS so that it may be included in that database and searched in CODIS. In light of our order that the profile be uploaded into NDIS, it is unnecessary to decide whether the profile is eligible for upload into Florida‟s SDIS or eligible for a manual keyboard search in NDIS or Florida's SDIS.
Justice Pariente, Justice Lewis, Justice Quince, Justice Labarga, and Justice Perry concurred with the Court's order. Chief Justice Canady concurred "in result" and Justice Polston concurred "in result only."


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