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Obtaining Underlying Data From the Illinois Report (Inside NACDL)
By Norman Reimer
Inside NACDL columns.
Mistaken eyewitness identification is now well recognized as a leading
contributor to erroneous convictions in the United States. Several years
ago, Rene L. Valladares, writing for The Champion, observed that
“eyewitness evidence is often fraught with inaccuracies, nevertheless,
it has the power of a sledgehammer and it can swiftly put an innocent
man behind bars.”1 This month, I am pleased to report that NACDL has
commenced litigation to stoke the embers of reform. (See NACDL News, page 6.)
Fueled by a growing body of research, recent national efforts to
reduce the risk of misidentification focus on the adoption of
double-blind lineups and sequential viewing. In a double-blind lineup
the administrator of the lineup is unaware of the identity of the
suspect, and therefore cannot engage in any suggestive behavior, either
intentionally or inadvertently. In a sequential lineup, the witness
views each individual separately, minimizing the risk of a comparative
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