Policy Letter

Amicus Brief: Reed v. Goertz

Rodney Reed has been on death row in Texas for 23 years despite the strong possibility that he is innocent. For years, he has been trying to convince the courts to allow for modern DNA testing of key evidence in his case, including the murder weapon. This testing could prove once and for all whether Reed is innocent or guilty, but Texas has refused to perform it. Now Reed is asking the Supreme Court to overrule a federal appeals court’s ruling that blocked his effort to secure the testing on a technicality.

Last week, the Project On Government Oversight and the Innocence Network joined Anthony Graves and Michael Morton, both of whom were exonerated by DNA testing after being convicted of crimes they did not commit, to file a brief supporting Reed’s bid to have the Supreme Court hear his case. The brief draws on Graves’ and Morton’s experiences to emphasize the critical role DNA testing can play in cases like theirs and Reed’s.

The lack of DNA testing is not the only serious flaw in the case against Reed, and this is not the first time POGO has spoken out in his support. In 2019, we briefed the court on statements made by the prosecution’s key witness that contradicted the testimony he gave at Reed’s trial. Indeed, as our most recent brief notes, that contradiction and a variety of other evidence that has come to light since Reed’s conviction point toward the witness, not Reed, as the perpetrator.

Texas could end this speculation and ensure justice is served by conducting a DNA test. But since it won’t, the Supreme Court must step in.

We are grateful to Maggie Adema Malloy at Jones Day for representing us on this brief.

The Supreme Court heard Rodney Reed's case in October 2022. We rejoined our partners to submit a new brief on the merits of the case prior to oral argument.