San Diego’s New $555 Million Courthouse Lacks Space for Criminal Evidence

With a $555 million price tag, you’d think the new San Diego Superior Court building would have enough room for the criminal evidence used at trials. But you’d be wrong. The fresh 22-story tower set to open this year actually has half the space of the current building and it’s a major problem, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Some in the legal community are concerned the storage limitations could cause problems, especially if evidence in a criminal case needs to be tested again for DNA, possibly to prove someone’s innocence.

No kidding.

The District Attorney’s Office, local defense attorneys’ associations, the Public Defender’s Office and others have urged the court to reconsider recommendations made in November, particularly one that says the court will no longer store any exhibits containing biological material, including blood or other bodily fluids that could be tested for DNA.

The court also would no longer accept foam-core poster boards in any cases, including murder cases, or any other large or irregularly shaped objects.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has already expressed grave concern.

“While I am sympathetic to the court’s storage issues, I am deeply concerned about changing the policies as applied to cases involving homicides … and sex crimes,” she wrote. “The parties look to the court as the neutral in the litigation. And, as the neutral, the court could be trusted to maintain the evidence in an unaltered state.”

The Innocence Project says the storage issues could end up getting innocent people sent to prison. At the very least, it’s an excellent line of defense for criminal defense attorneys seeking to overturn convictions.

Read more about the dilemma here.