Thursday, February 22, 2007

West Virginia and Maryland ID Reform Bills Pass Senate Committees Today

Big news on the legislative front today -- eyewitness identification reform bills passed committees in the state senates of both West Virginia and Maryland today. In West Virginia, Senate Bill 82 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning despite substantial resistance from law enforcement, and Maryland's Senate Bill 157 passed the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee today as well.

West Virginia's bill plots out best practices in detail, following DOJ Guidelines for lineup procedures, and also expressing a strong preference for sequential lineups "wherever practicable." The bill also acknowledges the danger of the nonblind sequential procedure -- namely that any cues by the administrator take on even greater force when a witness is only viewing a single suspect -- by requiring that any procedure that "for any reason" is not conducted by a blind administrator must be done simultaneously.

Maryland's bill takes a different approach, requiring that each law enforcement agency within the state adopt a set of written guidelines on the administration of lineup procedures, in compliance with the best practices set forth by DOJ.

Meanwhile, New Mexico's bill continues to percolate through the House...

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