D.C. Changes Eyewitness Identification and Informant Policies

Courts and police in the District of Columbia will be changing their policies on eyewitness identification and informants after several wrongful convictions. The changes come at the recommendation of a task force created by D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield.

The changes include keeping trial records permanently rather than destroying them after ten years so that even defendants convicted many years ago can have the chance to challenge their convictions. Courts will also give criminal defendants any information relating to police informants at least two weeks before trial. The previous standard was only a few hours before trial. Police will begin “blind” administration of photo lineups where the person presenting the photos does not know which photo is the suspect.

Judge Satterfield created the task force to study  best practices after three exonerations occurred in the District within the last three years. U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. welcomed the changes as did Barry J. Pollack, president of the board for the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project. The 14-member task force will continue to meet twice a year to review issues and act as an ongoing “innocence commission.”

Read the full story here.

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