The Legislature finds and declares:
Terms Used In Nebraska Statutes 29-4118
- Conviction: A judgement of guilt against a criminal defendant.
- Defendant: In a civil suit, the person complained against; in a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.
- Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
- Person: shall include bodies politic and corporate, societies, communities, the public generally, individuals, partnerships, limited liability companies, joint-stock companies, and associations. See Nebraska Statutes 49-801
- Testimony: Evidence presented orally by witnesses during trials or before grand juries.
- Trial: A hearing that takes place when the defendant pleads "not guilty" and witnesses are required to come to court to give evidence.
- United States: shall include territories, outlying possessions, and the District of Columbia. See Nebraska Statutes 49-801
- Verdict: The decision of a petit jury or a judge.
(1) Over the past decade, DNA testing has emerged as the most reliable forensic technique for identifying persons when biological material is found at a crime scene or transferred from the victim to the person responsible and transported from the crime scene;
(2) Because of its scientific precision and reliability, DNA testing can, in some cases, conclusively establish the guilt or innocence of a criminal defendant. In other cases, DNA may not conclusively establish guilt or innocence but may have significant probative value to a finder of fact;
(3) While DNA testing is increasingly commonplace in pretrial investigations currently, it was not widely available in cases prior to 1994. Moreover, new forensic DNA testing procedures, such as polymerase chain reaction amplification, DNA short tandem repeat analysis, and mitochondrial DNA analysis, make it possible to obtain results from minute samples that previously could not be tested and to obtain more informative and accurate results than earlier forms of forensic DNA testing could produce. As a result, in some cases, convicted inmates have been exonerated by new DNA tests after earlier tests had failed to produce definitive results;
(4) Because DNA testing is often feasible on relevant biological material that is decades old, it can in some circumstances prove that a conviction which predated the development of DNA testing was based upon incorrect factual findings. DNA evidence produced even decades after a conviction can provide a more reliable basis for establishing a correct verdict than any evidence proffered at the original trial. DNA testing, therefor, can and has resulted in postconviction exoneration of innocent men and women;
(5) In the past decade, there have been multiple postconviction exonerations in the United States and Canada based upon DNA testing. In addition, a disturbing number of persons sentenced to death have been exonerated through postconviction DNA testing, some of these exonerations coming within days of their execution date;
(6) DNA testing responds to serious concerns regarding wrongful convictions, especially those arising out of mistaken eyewitness identification testimony; and
(7) There is a compelling need to ensure the preservation of biological material for postconviction DNA testing, for a limited period.