• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Study questions suspect lineup reliability

September 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new study suggests police departments are putting suspect lineups all wrong.

The LAPD prefers still-photo lineups.

A new study by the American Judicature Society questions the reliability of identifications from most lineups.

"In many times the characteristics aren't matching. I've had cases where there are some guys with mustaches, some guys with no mustaches. Some guys with goatees, other guys, no goatees," said defense attorney Jose Romero.

Jose Romero is a criminal defense attorney for Giovanni Ramirez, a man arrested for the critical beating of a San Francisco man in Dodger Stadium in March. Ramirez was identified by one witness in a lineup.

Ramirez was arrested on a parole violation. He was never charged in the beating. Eventually two other men were arrested and charged.

"If you look at the Giovanni Ramirez situation, the system worked. He was arrested under a probable-cause arrest warrant, but he was not filed on because there was insufficient evidence to show that he was guilty of that crime," said LAPD Detective Bureau Commander Michael Moriarty.

The new study concludes that witnesses should not look at a group of people all at once to pick a suspect. Instead they should look at individuals one by one with a detective who doesn't know who the real suspect is. That avoids giving unintentional cues.

Moriarty is confident they have enough controls to keep detectives from unduly influencing a lineup.

"The district attorney's office in this jurisdiction, they won't file on a one-witness ID. There has to be corroboration," said Moriarty.

Lineups might be changed they are not going to be eliminated in the near future by the LAPD.

Load Comments