Friday, March 2, 2007

Lineup Waivers?

More from Munsterberg -- Saul Kassin's plenary talk this afternoon chronicled a collection of DNA exonerations, as well as one suspected false conviction with post-conviction proceedings still in progress, a man named Marty Tankleff. Seventeen years ago, while in his last year of high school, Tankleff awoke in his house to find all the lights on, his mother brutally murdered, and his father bludgeoned to within inches of his life. Following a collection of blatant lies by police regarding fabricated evidence -- including a fabricated finger-pointing by his dying father -- Tankleff confessed, citing his inability to contradict his father, and remains in prison 17 years later for a crime he very likely did not commit.

It also turns out that in Louisville, Kentucky, there is a little-known practice called the voluntary lineup waiver, which is to say that a suspect can waive his right to be placed into a lineup and appear for a show-up in front of a witness. As it turns out, innocent people are the only ones who take advantage of this particular option, based on the (often false) belief that the rigors of the criminal justice system will bring about the truth, and that they do not require the same protections against suggestive police procedures. It also turns out that many such innocents end up in prison as a result.


April said...

Thanks for this great blog and your coverage of the conference. Working on a play about wrongful convictions and eyewitness error. Can we talk?

Ben Hiltzheimer said...

Sure, that sounds great, and glad you enjoy the blog. I'd love to hear about your play -- feel free to shoot me an email at b {at}