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Bloomfield Hills, Mich. — Sept. 26, 2016 — It’s a step in the right direction, but Michigan criminal defense attorney Neil Rockind, founder of Bloomfield Hills-based criminal defense law firm, Rockind Law, says Michigan SB 1083, which would allow those found innocent of any charges to have their DNA sample destroyed, doesn’t go far enough.
In 2015, Rockind became the first attorney in Michigan to get an acquitted client’s blood samples returned and has been vocal since then on the need for a law clearly stating that the rights to one’s biological evidence in the case of an acquittal or dismissal belong solely to the individual.
“Michigan is moving in the right direction with SB 1083, but why should an innocent person have to request that his or her blood sample, DNA or other biological evidence be returned? Instead, the return of any and all biological evidence should be automatic. There is absolutely no reason an individual who has had charges dismissed or been acquitted of any wrongdoing should have a DNA sample or other biological remnant stored in a crime lab, regardless of whether a return of the evidence is requested,” Rockind said.
In Rockind’s 2015 case, he ultimately retrieved the blood samples of his client, who was acquitted of Operating While Intoxicated-second offense, after obtaining an order compelling the Michigan State Police Department to do so. At the time he explained the challenges of getting the blood sample returned.
“Initially, the department refused and claimed the blood drawn from the client belonged to the prosecuting agency or the arresting agency,” Rockind said. “However, there is no law supporting the department’s claim. The department also claimed there is a policy that all blood samples must be kept for two years, with no distinction or exception for persons acquitted of a crime. Again, we found no law supporting that.”
Returning to SB 1083, Rockind says the final legislation needs to be explicit in defining when and how any biological evidence of an innocent person is returned.
“It must be timely and automatic; innocent individuals should not have to ask for something they already own to be returned,” Rockind said.
SB 1083, sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, can be read here.
About Rockind Law
Rockind Law is a Bloomfield Hills-based criminal defense law firm aggressively pursuing justice for individuals facing criminal charges, including white collar crime, drunk driving, narcotics and assault. To find out more about the firm’s services and resources, visit http://www.rockindlaw.com/.