Washington, DC (March 3, 2010) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has been fighting in the Illinois courts since Feb. 2007 to secure access to data and other materials related to the Chicago Police Department’s controversial, taxpayer-funded report on lineups and eyewitness procedures. The report sets forth highly controversial, and widely criticized conclusions that current eyewitness procedures—those that use traditional line ups where all suspects stand in a room together—are more effective than new procedures used in other American cities to reduce errors that can lead to wrongful convictions. Although academic research has consistently found that sequential, double-blind identification procedures substantially reduce false identifications, the report claimed that in “real life” lineups, the traditional method was more reliable. The Chicago, Evanston and Joliet police departments participated in the study with the Illinois State Police.
NACDL efforts to secure the underlying data from the taxpayer-funded report have faced years of roadblocks erected by three of the police departments involved—Chicago, Joliet, and the Illinois State Police. Evanston is the only municipality to agree to turn over their data. The denial of NACDL’s informal and formal FOIA requests had left no alternative but litigation. Last week, in a consolidated appeal, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First Judicial District issued a sweeping reversal of lower court decisions limiting NACDL access to the data underlying this controversial report.
As maintained throughout by NACDL, the court ultimately found that there is a “vital public interest in the disclosure of these documents.” The court found that the police departments failed to discharge their burden to show that the law enforcement exemptions shield any of the police documents from disclosure (after appropriate redaction). And the police departments’ wholesale assertions of undue burden were categorically rejected. The court’s remand does afford the opportunity for redaction or withholding of certain documents, with the police departments bearing the burden to demonstrate why any specific document or information would compromise law enforcement or privacy, in which case the data would be presented to the court for an in camera review. But the court was clear that they must produce the actual lineup photos and photo arrays photos; the privacy exemption does not apply to those.
Northwestern Law School’s MacArthur Justice Center, a Chicago-based public interest law firm, filed the suit on behalf of NACDL. “Wrongful convictions happen too frequently to ignore, and many of them are the direct result of erroneous eyewitness identification,” said Locke Bowman, legal director of the MacArthur Justice Center and attorney for NACDL. “The fact that the Chicago and Illinois Police Departments are not curious as to why their research goes against so many other legal experts’ scientific research and professional opinions remains deeply disconcerting. Our client, NACDL, has a right to see the data behind a taxpayer-funded study, and we’ve been asking the courts for some time to direct these police departments to turn the information over immediately. Last week’s appellate decision directing disclosure to NACDL of this data is a tremendous victory for fairness and justice.”
For more information and documents about NACDL’s Illinois Eyewitness Identification Litigation, including a copy of the February 25, 2010, Appellate Court reversal, please click here.
Cross-Examination Trial Pack
NACDL’s new Cross-Examination Trial Pack includes three of our best-selling Cross-Examination resources: “Damage Control: Situational Cross-Examination Techniques Trial Guide”, "Ultimate Cross 2.0: Audio Recordings & Written Materials" and "Sample Cross-Examination Questions."
This masterful collection of cross-examination resources provide countless tips, techniques and strategies for a variety of criminal case-specific scenarios. Learn to cross-examine a variety of trial witnesses!
Death Investigation: Forensic Pathology in the Courtroom and Cause & Manner of Death (2022)
This unique program provides criminal defense lawyers with an accurate and clear overview of forensic pathology and the countless factors to consider in a death investigation and will methodically explain what happens during an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death.
You'll uncover the different types of medicolegal death investigations, what to request from your MDI expert, quality benchmarks for accreditation and certification, guidelines and standards, common terminology and frequently asked questions.
The Psychology of Persuasion & Storytelling for Criminal Defense Lawyers
This Trial Resource Guide is a masterful collection of practical tips, techniques and strategies focused solely on using the arts and sciences of persuasion to improve your storytelling skills at trial.
You'll learn how to master the ability to communicate with juries, deliver powerful openings and closings, perform convincing cross-examinations, use effective courtroom choreography and non-verbal communication, identify and develop the optimal theme and theory for your case, and offer compelling arguments during mitigation and sentencing.
Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victims Cases (2022)
Defending charges of sexual assault and child abuse can be daunting — but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
Every year, NACDL identifies the hottest topics and most pressing issues when defending these cases, and brings-in nationally-renowned lawyers and experts to help you prepare for battle. This year’s 13th Annual Defending Sex Cases training program is our best yet; packed with topics and speakers you won’t want to miss!
NACDL Communications Department
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.