Articles Posted in Identification Issues

Science and technology play an increasingly important role in our society. Over recent decades, advancements in these areas have been incorporated into the Michigan criminal justice system, with the advent of DNA evidence and other new scientific evidence. While, in theory, reliance on new types of evidence can help the fair administration of justice, too often, these new developments are used solely to obtain convictions, rather than to ensure a fair process for those facing serious crimes.

A recent example of the fallibility of new types of evidence is discussed in a New York Times article. The article details the arrest of a man who was identified through facial recognition software.

Evidently, in February, 2019, a man stole candy from a convenience store. Police responded, and the man gave them a fake identification card. However, as the officers were processing the arrest, the defendant fled by hopping into the car and driving off. As he was fleeing the scene, he hit a police car and almost hit a police officer who was on foot.

In March, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Michigan homicide case discussing the propriety of a show-up identification made by a witness. A show-up identification is one in which police show a single person to a witness, asking if that is the person they believe committed the crime.

Show-up identifications are inherently suspect because they are suggestive in that the witness will almost always know that the person they are asked about is being investigated for their involvement in a crime. Thus, courts require law enforcement officers to take special precautions to ensure these identification procedures are not unfairly suggestive.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was pulled over on suspicion of homicide after his vehicle was identified by a witness. Another witness, Jones, identified the defendant as the shooter. At the time of the shooting, Jones was riding in the back seat of a car. Jones described the shooter as a bald black man wearing black pants and a white shirt.

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