Monday, September 19, 2011

AJS - A Test of the Simultaneous vs. Sequential Lineup Methods

Cover Image of Report

The analysis of over 850 lineups collected across four sites: the Austin (TX) Police Department, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) Police Department, the Tucson (AZ) Police Department, and the San Diego (CA) Police Department has been completed. 

To view the report, click here. 

To see a list, prepared by the Innocence Project, of jurisdictions that conduct double-blind sequential lineups, click here.

The initial report follows a landmark decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court (State vs. Larry R.  Henderson) requiring changes in the way courts evaluate eyewitness identification evidence at trial and how juries should be instructed.  The decision takes into account over 30 years of eyewitness identification and memory research. 

Dr. Gary L. Wells, Director of Social Sciences for the AJS Center of Forensic Science and Public Policy and the principal investigator of the EWID Field Studies, was recently interviewed by the New York Times in response to the Supreme Court decisions and the implications it may have on police lineup investigative techniques.  A copy of the article, “Police Lineups Start to Face Fact: Eyes Can Lie,” is available here

Study aims to alter the way police conduct lineups  by Nedra Pickler

A new study says those lineups you see on television crime dramas and often used in real-life police departments are going about it all wrong.

The study released Monday by the American Judicature Society is part of a growing body of research during the past 35 years that questions the reliability of eyewitness identifications under certain circumstances. That research has been taken more seriously in recent years with the evolution of DNA evidence clearing innocents of crimes they were convicted of committing, often based on eyewitness testimony.

The new study finds witnesses should not look at a group of people at once to pick a perpetrator. Instead, they should look at individuals one-by-one with a detective who doesn't know which is the real suspect - known as a double-blind lineup to avoid giving witnesses unintentional cues - preferably on a computer to ensure appropriate random procedures are used and to record the data.

The study found witnesses using the sequential method were less likely to pick the innocents brought in to fill out the lineup. The theory is that witnesses using the sequential lineup will compare each person to the perpetrator in their memory, instead of comparing them to one another side-by-side to see which most resembles the criminal.