More States Considering, Passing Laws On Lineup Reform


A continuing wave of exonerations and revelations about wrongful convictions linked to false eyewitness identification has led more states to consider reforming their lineup procedures with new guidelines and legislation, says the National Law Journal. A key factor is the order in which lineups should be shown. More states may replace the traditional simultaneous method with the sequential procedure, during which people or photographs are shown one after another rather than all at once. Another common feature of new procedures is a “blind” lineup, meaning the person administering it does not know who the suspect is.

A reform bill in West Virginia awaits the governor’s approval and was one of 16 bills on eyewitness identification proposed in 10 states this legislative session, said Scott Ehlers of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Ehlers said a Georgia resolution calling for a commission to create a best-practices standard has a good chance of passing, as does a bill in California that re-introduced after being vetoed by the governor last year. In Illinois, the issue has been under a spotlight as a result of a new lawsuit. over study on eyewitness identification released last year. The controversial report by the general counsel for the Chicago Police Department superintendent questioned some of the new reform procedures and instead favored traditional methods. The lawsuit aims to get the data used in the study.


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