One California Court Has Already Weighed in on Maryland v. King

And it’s not the California Court of Appeals for the First District, the lower court in People v. Buza.

In People v. Lowe, the California Court of Appeals for the Fourth District, Division One (the “Inland Empire”), had upheld against a Fourth Amendment claim a conviction based in part on DNA identification stemming from a sample taken from an arrestee. The California Supreme Court granted and then, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Maryland v. King, sent it back to the lower court for reconsideration in light of that case. (It did the same with People v. Buza, which had gotten more attention because there the lower court had held the DNA provisions violated the federal constitution.)

The Fourth District recently filed its opinion after remand.  Once again, it upholds the conviction.  In its treatment of Maryland v. King, it does not discuss the specific ways in which the Maryland statute might be constitutionally distinguished from the California statute.  Neither does it talk about any other grounds for invalidating the DNA collection, either in the California constitution or in other provisions of the state constitution.  After listening to the Haskell v. Harris re-argument, this opinion is quite disappointing in its fairly shallow assessment of the issues. That doesn’t mean it is wrong and its lack of depth might be a result of either the lawyering or the judging.  But it doesn’t eliminate my interest in the next decision in People v. Buza, where the lower court initially invalidated the California in a long, careful opinion – and where it noted that there were other federal and state constitutional issues that it did not need reach because of its Fourth Amendment decision.

Hank Greely