March 3, Washington, D.C.
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.Given the number of exonerations, you would think law enforcement would want to keep everything transparent.