An influential state senator said Tuesday that he would like to prohibit police in Texas from using “showup” identifications, a widespread practice that has been identified as a contributing factor in many wrongful convictions exposed by DNA testing. Reacting to an investigation into faulty eyewitness identifications by the Dallas Morning News, Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said legislators should be discussing whether to abolish showups, which he described as an abuse of police powers.
The News reported that three of the 18 wrongful convictions based on eyewitness identifications in Dallas County stemmed from showups, a one-person lineup that the U.S. Supreme Court has called inherently suggestive. Dallas County leads the nation in convictions invalidated by DNA since 2001, and Texas, with 36, leads all other states. “I think because of the outrageous number of wrongful convictions in Texas, it’s time to begin the dialog [to ban showups],” said Ellis, board chairman of the Innocence Project, a New York-based legal clinic that works to free the wrongly imprisoned through genetic testing.