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OCTOBER 12, 2005


Marc Rotenberg,
EPIC Executive Director
(202) 483-1140 ext. 106

      Shows that Investigative Technique is Unsuccessful,
       Calls for Guidelines to Govern Collection of DNA

EPIC has filed a "friend of the court" brief in a federal court
case addressing whether the police may coerce a person to provide
a DNA sample. The brief was submitted just as Congress is
considering controversial legislation that would expand the scope
of DNA profiles in CODIS, the FBI's national DNA database.

The case concerns a 2002 DNA dragnet initiated by police in Baton
Rouge, Louisiana during a serial rape-murder investigation.
Police targeted men in southern Louisiana, asking them to provide
DNA samples to determine whether one of them might be the
rapist-murderer. By 2003, police had taken samples from more than
1,200 men in what was the largest DNA dragnet in U.S. history at
the time. At least 15 men, including Shannon Kohler, declined to
let police take a DNA sample. The Baton Rouge Police Department
obtained a warrant to force Mr. Kohler to submit his DNA sample
for the investigation. Mr. Kohler was identified by the police
and news media as a suspect in the highly publicized
investigation. The police later cleared Mr. Kohler as a suspect.

Mr. Kohler filed suit, alleging that the warrant used to obtain
his DNA was not supported by probable cause. He has asked for his
DNA profile to be removed from any state or federal database and
has requested damages for the invasion of his privacy in
violation of constitutional guarantees against unreasonable
search and seizure. In February 2005, the court dismissed Mr.
Kohler's claim, finding that police had probable cause based on
two anonymous tips and the fact that Mr. Kohler met "certain
elements of an FBI profile," which the court characterized as "so
broad and vague that it cast a net of suspicion over thousands of

EPIC's brief surveys more than 20 DNA dragnets conducted in the
United States over the past 15 years.  The brief shows that the
investigative technique has failed repeatedly to identify the
intended targets of investigations, but has compromised the
privacy rights of thousands of innocent people.  The brief urges
that clear guidelines be established before the police engage in
this investigative practice.

EPIC's amicus brief in Kohler v. Englade:


More information about the case:


DNA Fingerprint Act of 2005, S. 1197 Title X: