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Nixon signs law to expand DNA database

Gov. Jay Nixon signed a number of bills Thursday related to crime prevention, including legislation prompting officials to take DNA samples from individuals arrested or booked for certain offenses. Nixon signed a law requiring individuals over the age of 17 arrested or booked for assorted felonies to provide a DNA sample to law enforcement officials. Individuals arrested for burglary, sexual offenses and child pornography would be affected by the law.

VIDEO: Nixon on the DNA legislation

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Crime lab crisis hasn’t materialized here

Missouri has long required authors of reports to testify

Prosecutors around the nation are raising fears of blown cases and criminals walking free because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. Crime lab reports can’t be admitted in court without the author available to testify and be cross-examined by the defendant, the court ruled in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts. Missouri courts, however, have been operating under a similar standard since 2007, and prosecutors and defense lawyers here say doomsday scenarios haven’t materialized.

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The fate of legal bills of note

Through last-minute parliamentary maneuvering, Sen. Jim Lembke (pictured), R-Lemay, became the unlikely sponsor of the first omnibus judiciary bill to pass the legislature in years. Lembke said he found the turn of events ironic. "My relationship with the judiciary has been tenuous at best," he admitted. Continue reading for a rundown of legal bills of note that passed in 2009, such as the caseload cap for public defenders, and those that failed, such as changes to the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan.

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A positive result?

Family law attorneys say paternity bill doesn’t go far enough A bill allowing fathers to use DNA testing to challenge child-support orders has left some family law attorneys wondering what kind of help the measure really offers. At the insistence of prosecutors, the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, scaled back or cut portions that would have given fathers wider leeway in challenging paternity. LaVerne Hale, second from right, leads fathers in prayer Tuesday at the Fathers' Support Center in North St. Louis. Hale recently testified before the state Legislature about his struggles to pay support for a child who, DNA evidence eventually showed, wasn't his.

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