Thursday, January 18, 2007
From latimes.com: Loyola Law School Juvenile CrimProf Cyn Yamashiro recently commented on the jury's role in the case against 10 Long Beach youths accused of beating three white women Halloween night which hinged almost entirely on eye witness identifications.
In a procedure known as a field show-up, police told the victims and a reputed witness that the youths — nine girls and a boy, ages 12 to 17 — were suspects and asked if they recognized them from the melee. In several subsequent police interviews, witnesses were never asked to pick the juveniles out of a lineup that included non-suspects: a means to test their memory that experts say is a standard and crucial procedure. Nor were they asked to identify them in open court.
Long Beach Police Cmdr. Jeffry Johnson said the field show-up is the most accurate form of identification in a case like this. "Especially when you talk about numerous suspects, you have to go with immediate recollection," he said.
But experts say field show-ups are inherently fallible and rarely used in isolation.
"I can't remember ever seeing a case go to trial in which the only identification is a field show-up," said Kathy Pezdek, a professor at Claremont Graduate University and expert witness in the area of eyewitness identification, in an interview. "It's extremely unusual."
"A jury is the great equalizer," said Juvenile Crim Prof Cyn Yamashiro. "It is the true challenge to the people's case. That is the component of due process that is absent in the juvenile system."
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]