Monday, September 19, 2011

Changes Coming to Police Line-Up Procedures?

A new report released by the American Judicature Society has found that double-blind sequential lineups, which are lineups where the administrating officer does not know which person is the suspect and the witness only views one suspect at a time, produce fewer mistaken identifications that lineup procedures that present all of the suspect photographs at once or simultaneously. The report, “A Test of Simultaneous vs. Sequential Lineup Methods: An Initial Report of the AJS National Eyewitness Identification Field Studies,” has implications for reducing wrongful convictions in the United States criminal justice system. Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in more than 75% of the 273 convictions overturned through DNA testing. The report is released on the heels of a decision from the New Jersey Supreme Court cited this “troubling lack of reliability” in setting new rules for addressing those weaknesses in New Jersey courtrooms. The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments, in November, in its first significant eyewitness identification case in 34 years. The case, Perry v. New Hampshire, is concerned with whether judges must take a hard look at all identifications arising from suggestive circumstances or only those involving official misconduct. Read more from New York Times or Innocence Project.

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