CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Findley on Eyewitness Identification Reform Strategies

Findley keithKeith A. Findley (University of Wisconsin Law School) has posted Implementing the Lessons from Wrongful Convictions: An Empirical Analysis of Eyewitness Identification Reform Strategies (Missouri Law Review, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Learning about the flaws in the criminal justice system that have produced wrongful convictions has progressed at a dramatic pace since the first innocent individuals were exonerated by postconviction DNA testing in 1989. Application of that knowledge to improving the criminal justice system, however, has lagged far behind the growth in knowledge. Likewise, while considerable scholarship has been devoted to identifying the factors that produce wrongful convictions, very little scholarly attention has been devoted to the processes through which knowledge about causes is translated into reform. Using eyewitness misidentification -- one of the leading contributors to wrongful convictions and the most thoroughly and scientifically studied of those contributors -- as the focus, this Article begins to fill that void by empirically analyzing a variety of approaches to eyewitness identification reform that have been attempted. This Article establishes a taxonomy of reform efforts ranging from top-down, command-and-control legislation, to entirely bottom-up, essentially laissez-faire approaches, to a hybrid that builds on emerging notions of democratic experimentalism -- a form of "new governance" -- to foster bottom-up experimentation by imposing obligations on police while giving them the freedom to develop their own locally tailored responses to the problem of eyewitness error. The bulk of the empirical analysis assesses the effects of the bottom-up experimentalist approaches to reform, as a contrast to command-and-control approaches. The analysis draws on previously collected national survey data as well as data from a few individual states, most prominently new data developed for this Article on the attempt to foster bottom-up eyewitness identification reform in Wisconsin. While more research is required before one can draw conclusions about which approach works best, the data suggest that the democratic experimentalist model shows promise for considerable, albeit imperfect, implementation of social-science-based eyewitness identification reforms.

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Prior to downloading the Article, I will hope & pray that the solutions offered up in black & white call for mandatory Digital Documentation of any & all so called - Photo Line-Ups & subsequent Live Show-Ups (aka: Line-Ups). Of course any call devoid of - a tamperporoof proceedure with mandatory prison sentences, with a minimum of no less than 5 years & one day for those that attempt to tamper and / or tamper with any portion of the process, would be considered weak tea by those surrounded in various forms of imunity. It takes a Team Effort to obtain a wrongful conviction based on erronious information, therefore, this would include the: Supervisors that sign off on Police Incident Reports with grosss descrepantcies in identifiers, the ADA in INTAKE that takes the case and charges 'without' vetting the information used to obatin the Possitive Identification 'prior' to filing the first - Ready for Trial notice, the Attorney that fails to vett a client's case 'prior' to advising him/ her to avoid or stop a jury trial in progress in order to adivise him / her to Take the Plea, the Judge that allows it and the Crime Victim that can be shown to have knowingly & willingly Positively Identified the wrong person as a suspect. As for the crime victim that can be shown to have been notified of his / her obvious Wrongful Identification and refuses to accept the facts, well, that person should be indicted.
Speaking as an Un-Exoneratable of Texas (due to 'Not' qualifying), in possession of materials that show exactly how an undocumented process can conlcude in a Positive Identification, despite the lead detective noticing that the description(s) didn't fit in any way whatsoever, and shown to have called the DA's INTAKE anyway, hopefully one can see why I personally advocate for mandatory digital documentation of the event that leads to either an indictment or not. Doing so in hopes that other rogue Detectives aren't allowed to assist confused crime victims in their endeavors to positively ID so called - Suspects that don't come close to the original description filed and / or subsequent descriptions offered up afterwards. Thanks.
*Please consider a authoring Series on this topic.

Posted by: Thomas R. Griffith | Jan 21, 2016 11:23:31 AM

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