Police consider new lineup methods

NJ ruling may prompt wider policy changes


By Erica Goode and John Scwartz
New York Times

The decision by New Jersey’s Supreme Court last week to overhaul the state’s rules for how judges and jurors treat evidence from police lineups could help transform the way officers conduct a central technique of police work, criminal justice experts say.

In its ruling, the court strongly endorsed decades of research demonstrating that traditional eyewitness identification procedures are flawed and can send innocent people to prison. By making it easier for defendants to challenge witness evidence in criminal cases, the court for the first time attached consequences for investigators who fail to take steps to reduce the subtle pressures and influences on witnesses that can result in mistaken identifications.

“No court has ever taken this topic this seriously or put in this kind of effort,’’ said Gary L. Wells, a psychology professor at Iowa State University who is an expert on witness identification and has written extensively on the topic.

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