North Carolina police departments would have to follow new standards for conducting eyewitness lineups and recording homicide interrogations next year in bills given final legislative this week. Along with a DNA testing bill that also received final approval, the two measures received bipartisan, unanimous support from both the House and Senate on the way to Gov. Mike Easley’s desk for his signature. The primary sponsor of the changes said they will “make it more likely that we are truly confident that we are convicting the guilty and lessening the chance of any innocent persons being prosecuted and convicted.”
The “Eyewitness Identification Reform Act” requires uniform procedures for conducting a lineup in which a witness attempts to identity a perpetrator by reviewing photos or live people standing behind a glass window. Misidentification plays a role in 75 percent of convictions overturned through DNA testing, according to the Innocence Project, a legal clinic that handles DNA-related post-conviction cases. Another change would require all interrogations in a homicide investigation to be recorded by video or audio as a way to ensure that officers perform them properly.