OCTOBER TERM, 2008
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE FOR THE THIRD
JUDICIAL DISTRICT ET AL. v. OSBORNE
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR
THE NINTH CIRCUIT
No. 08–6. Argued March 2, 2009—Decided June 18, 2009
Respondent Osborne was convicted of sexual assault and other crimes
in state court. Years later, he filed this suit under 42 U. S. C. §1983,
claiming he had a due process right to access the evidence used
against him in order to subject it to DNA testing at his own expense.
The Federal District Court first dismissed his claim under Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U. S. 477, holding that Osborne must proceed in ha-
beas because he sought to set the stage for an attack on his convic-
tion. The Ninth Circuit reversed, concluding that §1983 was the
proper vehicle for Osborne’s claims. On remand, the District Court
granted Osborne summary judgment, concluding that he had a lim-
ited constitutional right to the new testing under the unique and spe-
cific facts presented, i.e., that such testing had been unavailable at
trial, that it could be accomplished at almost no cost to the State, and
that the results were likely to be material. The Ninth Circuit af-
firmed, relying on the prosecutorial duty to disclose exculpatory evi-
dence under, e.g., Brady v. Maryland, 373 U. S. 83.
Held: Assuming Osborne’s claims can be pursued using §1983, he has
no constitutional right to obtain postconviction access to the State’s
evidence for DNA testing. Pp. 8–21.
(a) DNA testing has an unparalleled ability both to exonerate the
wrongly convicted and to identify the guilty.