In light of what happen to that brotha, Willie O. “Pete” Williams who was recently released from prison after spendin 21+ years for a crime he did not commit, I feel compelled to comment.
This man was accused of rape in 1985, and at that time loudly proclaimed his innocence. His legal rep was incompetent. The eyewitness was “120% sure he was the one…” He went washin’ right on down the Southern penal system, that states all Black men are guilty until proven innocent, beyond a reasonable doubt.
Yep, DNA exonerated him. But only after 21+ years…
This man as denied his freedom for all this time. The litigator in me figgers he would have made approx. $27,000/yr had he been free, and that is at the most menial, yet manly of jobs. That x 22 years is $594,000 to start!
Once we add compensatory- and them all mighty punitive damages, this man could get them for mils! Once again, I wish I was his legal counsel…
So now they want to have new “RULES FOR BETTER WITNESS IDENTIFICATIONS”.
Well, here they are. Commentary welcome.
- Use of a “neutral blind administrator.” This means the suspect is unknown to the person conducting the lineup. That way, the administrator of the lineup can’t influence the eyewitness.
- Use of “sequential presentation” in lineups. This means showing photographs, or presenting lineup members, one-by-one, rather than presenting them side-by-side. Research has shown that eyewitnesses tend to make “relative judgments” about lineup participants when they are presented together, leading to inaccurate identification.
- Authorities will be required to inform eyewitnesses before a lineup of certain facts, including telling them there’s a possibility the person who committed the crime may not be in the lineup and that the eyewitness should not feel compelled to make an identification.
- Use of a “confidence statement.” Authorities would be required to obtain a statement from the eyewitness on his or her confidence level in the identification.
- A suspect should not be made to “unduly” stand out in a lineup by bringing unreasonable attention to him or her. Lineup “fillers” —- those who are not suspects —- should resemble the eyewitness’ description of the suspect.
They sound promising. If all the various corrupt police departments in the world could be trusted to adhere to it, a brotha might have a chance. But thats not something that could be guaranteed…
I do think that DNA evidence should be introduced into every case early on, to eliminate innocent people and ‘prolly catch the guilty one sooner than later. Had this been done, this poor brotha would not have had to spend 22 years of his life imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.
Such is the way of the world…