Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger called Roberts' opinion "a very positive sign." And Harford County Sheriff L. Jesse Bane held out hope that the Maryland ruling would be overturned.

Bane's office stopped collecting DNA after the state Court of Appeals decision came down. He said he plans to consult with prosecutors about resuming the process in light of the Supreme Court stay that has been extended.

"Not that I'm one who likes to take exception to anything the courts say," Bane said, "but DNA is a very valuable tool" that not only identifies criminals, but clears those wrongly arrested.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O'Malley called DNA collection a "crucial part" of state strategy in fighting violent crime." And a spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she was "pleased that Justice Roberts extended the stay. It is the right course of action."

But Colbert, the Maryland law professor, urged caution.

"I would share every citizen's interest in wanting to concentrate on individuals that may represent a danger to others," he said. "But certainly, [we should] place significant restriction on law enforcement's ability to engage in across-the-board practices."

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