When Glann Raynor was asked to voluntarily provide a DNA sample by police investigating a sexual assault case, he politely declined. Police noticed he had been touching a chair and later called a technician to swab the chair and collect any DNA capable of being tested. They did so without a warrant. Maryland’s divided Supreme Court found this was reasonable and did not violate Raynor’s expectation of privacy. In a scene taken from Ethan Hawke’s film “Gatica” police were able to solve a crime by simply collecting available DNA cells shed by the donor. Does this open up new area for police to investigate? Will we see police simply swab or vacuum a crime scene to learn who might have been present?
We also will need to see whether the majority opinion is adopted or the dissent’s articulated fear of invasion of individual privacy by such tactics wins the day. In this day and age, getting a warrant is so easy and quick, it is a wonder why police do not just default to obtaining one. It is this refusal to seek judicial approval for their actions which should be the scariest of all aspects of this case. Police are more brazen in their disregard for the requirements established by the 4th Amendment to seek a warrant except in the most rare of cases. Nowadays it is suprising to see a police officer with a warrant.
To view the Raynor decision click here.