Laser foresees three-week hearing in fall; sets time limits for requesting and testing DNA; wants briefs on juror misconduct by May 25

Circuit Judge David Laser

In a three-page order issued on Mar. 15, Arkansas Circuit Judge David Laser set deadlines for attorneys representing the West Memphis Three and the state attorney general’s office, in preparation for an evidentiary hearing that he said will be held “for up to three weeks (continuous)” between Oct. 1 and Dec. 15 of this year. Laser said he will announce the specific dates by Mar. 29.[private]The judge also said he will rule on “whether or not additional DNA or other forensic evidence is to be obtained” after attorneys for the defense have submitted motions requesting the testing and the state has had a chance to respond. All requests, responses and replies are to be submitted by early April.  

Laser ruled that any additional DNA or forensic testing he may order “is to be complete and reported back within 90 days” of his order granting the new tests. His ruling alerted state officials that, should he order the tests defense attorneys have sought, the “materials for testing are to be made available” within seven days of his order granting the tests.

In what was titled the “Court’s First Scheduling Order,” Laser told the attorneys that “the question of alleged juror misconduct will be resolved by the court upon adversarial briefs,” all of which are to be submitted to him by May 25. The order gave no indication of when the judge expects to rule on that issue.

Laser ordered that all requests for discovery, all evidence depositions, all motions and all responses are to be filed by Sept. 25. He noted that, “The evidentiary hearing will, by agreement of the parties, be held jointly and in Jonesboro.[/private]

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