Innocence Commission reaches for the ‘gold standard’ in eyewitness identification policy

first_img Innocence Commission reaches for the ‘gold standard’ in eyewitness identification policy Senior EditorSmoothing over hurt feelings about trust issues with law enforcement after proposed legislation failed, the Florida Innocence Commission passed its own beefed-up recommendations for statewide uniform police standards on conducting eyewitness identification lineups.Those recommendations include the ideal “gold standard,” with a caveat about cost: Agencies with available resources shall have an independent administrator who does not know who the suspect is, to prevent even inadvertent cueing to the witness during a photo or live lineup.Three “no” votes came from Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey, Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Cameron, and Fifth Circuit State Attorney Brad King.During the debate on May 16 in Orlando, Second Circuit Public Defender Nancy Daniels, president of the Florida Public Defender Association, said she wished Innocence Commission-endorsed legislation had passed to put statewide protocol into law and voiced surprise that law enforcement fought even the watered-down House version. She moved to strengthen flexible guidelines submitted by law enforcement groups to clearly show a preference for the independent administrator, otherwise known as “double blind.”Cameron said the cost was too great for most law enforcement agencies.“To put in the word ‘shall’ — ‘if you have the resources, you shall use an independent administrator’ — that’s wrong. You have to leave that up to the organization, and you have to have trust in law enforcement that they are not going to do it wrong,” Cameron said.“Because no matter what system you use in evidence-gathering, there is always an opportunity for a bad officer to do a bad thing. We call them ‘bad actors.’ And that’s for law enforcement to deal with and get the bad actors out. Just like there are bad attorneys. We all have them. So I think it’s a mistake for the commission to send down a recommendation that says, ‘We don’t trust law enforcement.’ And that’s really what that discussion is about.”Not so, countered Alex Acosta, dean of the Florida International University College of Law, who headed the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District for five years.“I don’t think anyone here is saying they don’t trust law enforcement,” Acosta said. “I hear that refrain far too often when law enforcement doesn’t get something it wants. I just want to push back against that.. . . “Don’t we want to say the absolute best we can come up with and leave it to law enforcement to decide how closely they want to follow that? That doesn’t mean we don’t trust. If anything, it means we are trusting law enforcement to decide, when, in their discretion, they should follow what is absolutely the gold standard, and with the resources they have.”FDLE’s Bailey echoed Cameron’s concerns when he cautioned it could open up the opportunity for defense attorneys to ask on cross-examination: “You didn’t use the gold standard. Why didn’t you?”Acosta responded: “It strikes me that our job here is to set the gold standard, and if an agency feels, because of a litigative risk, it can’t meet that, then that’s up to the agency. But I don’t think we should water down our standard because of litigative risk.”Eleventh Circuit Judge Israel Reyes, a former homicide detective, said: “I trust law enforcement. I don’t trust those segments of bad law enforcement. I will never trust those segments of bad law enforcement, and I will do everything I can to make sure that we control those segments. Because, quite frankly, the Bill Camerons, the Gerry Baileys, and the Brad Kings of the world don’t need these standards. Because they are going to do above and beyond the right thing each and every time, as the majority of law enforcement are.. . . “There’s nothing wrong with having the guidelines. I have to tell you if we give it too much wiggle room, those bad segments of law enforcement, who are not going to do whatever they are told to do, those are the ones who cause you headaches every day,” Reyes continued.“And I think if law enforcement doesn’t do something, it’s going to be done for them. And I think that’s the last thing you want. So I’m telling you this is the why we are going to do it: Either with legislation, which almost happened, or with some other mandate. I’m saying that from the standpoint as a former law enforcement officer.”Kenneth Nunn, a law professor at the University of Florida, pointed out that the commission’s recommendations are weaker than other states that have considered eyewitness identification reforms. North Carolina, Ohio, New Jersey, Denver, and Tampa currently require “sequential double-blind,” the super gold standard using an independent administrator showing lineup photos one at a time.“There is no evidence, and no testimony from any of the people in those jurisdictions, that say that that has hampered their ability to secure convictions,” Nunn said. “I do not think that we are in any way putting a target out there that’s too far for the law enforcement agencies in the state of Florida to reach.”Much discussion focused on the fact that the Innocence Commission has no authority to compel law enforcement to do anything.Cameron noted that the Innocence Commission’s seven months of studying the problems of eyewitness misidentifications — contributing to 75 percent of wrongful convictions of 267 DNA exonerees nationwide — prompted law enforcement agencies to come up with written policies, not yet adopted statewide.But there are limits to the commission’s influence.In a May 9 email to Innocence Commission Executive Director Les Garringer, FDLE General Counsel Michael R. Ramage wrote that members of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, Florida Sheriffs Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, and FDLE — dubbed “The Group” — “decided to maintain exclusive authority and responsibility” for their own drafted guidelines that allow latitude and flexibility to individual law enforcement agencies.“The Group does not believe the commission has any authority to mandate required changes in policy or process, but may simply recommend matters for agencies’ consideration,” Ramage wrote.“The Group will continue to push for the continued voluntary and self-imposed application of their guidelines by the state’s law enforcement community and believes it will achieve full compliance by Florida law enforcement with their guidelines in the near future now that the [legislative] session is over.”That email prompted Professor Nunn to reiterate a point he made at the last meeting: “It is my view that it was and is a mistake for the commission to operate in a political fashion, concerned about what either law enforcement does with their internal suggestions and guidelines — or what the Legislature does with their pieces of legislation. The charge of this commission is to determine the most efficient and effective ways to make sure that wrongful convictions do not happen, that are based on science, that are based on the testimony we have before us.”Ramage explained that while law enforcement crafted its guidelines for the first statewide policy and presented them to the commission on March 1, progress came to a halt once bills were filed in the Legislature because agencies didn’t want to change their policies twice.“The Legislature has just ended, so the process is ready to begin anew,” Ramage said. “It’s the intent of The Group to urge 100 percent compliance by November 1.”But compliance will not mean adhering to the commission’s recommended “gold standard.”“I can tell you that more than likely most agencies are going to develop a policy that gives them the latitude to use any of the procedures,” said Cameron, who will discuss the issue at the sheriffs association meeting in July.Garringer said he will seek information from the 20 state attorneys on whether law enforcement agencies in their circuits have adopted written eyewitness identification guidelines.The commission moved ahead with studying the second topic that causes wrongful convictions: false confessions.Acosta was appointed chair of a work group to draft safeguards against false confessions. The next meeting is tentatively set for August 15. Innocence Commission reaches for the ‘gold standard’ in eyewitness identification policy June 15, 2011 Jan Pudlow Senior Editor Regular Newslast_img read more

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first_imgSubscribe now for unlimited access To continue enjoying, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our communitylast_img read more

Official Funeral & Day of Mourning for former senator

first_img Share Tweet Photo compliments Dr Lennox HonychurchFormer senator, Swanston Suriton Carbon, will be afforded an official funeral on Saturday, September 13, 2014, a government press release indicates.Mr Carbon, 68, died on August 31, 2014 at the Princess Margaret Hospital.The Government of Dominica has declared Saturday, September 13, 2014 an official day of mourning as a mark of respect for Mr Carbon, who was a former deputy speaker of the House of Assembly. The Dominican flag will be flown at half-staff on all public buildings in the State on the day of mourning.On July 16, 1990 Swanston Carbon was elected to serve as Deputy – Speaker of the House of Assembly a position which he held till May 15, 1995. Following the Dominica Freedom Party’s landslide election victory in the 1980 general elections, Swanston Carbon was appointed a Government Senator on July 30, 1980. He was re-appointed Senator on July 22, 1985 and again on June 1, 1990. In the 2000 general elections, Mr Carbon was a candidate for the Dominica Freedom Party in the Roseau South Constituency. He served on the Roseau City Council from 1978 to 1985. Up until the time of his death he was an executive member of the Dominica Freedom Party. In his younger days he was an ardent member of the JAYCEES Club.Swanston Carbon was born in Glanvillia, Portsmouth on September 6, 1945 and lived in the community of Wallhouse for a number of years. He was the owner and Managing Director of Carbon Refrigeration Services Ltd and leaves to mourn his wife Corinthia and children Stonneal, Armsby, Lennard, Lisa-Marie and Kitwanie. President Charles Savarin and First Lady Clara Savarin, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and Mrs Skerrit, Cabinet members, Speaker of the House of Assembly, members of Parliament, members of the Diplomatic Corps and other Government Officials are expected to attend the Official Funeral.Public viewing shall be from 2:00pm at Our Lady of Fatima Parish Church in Newtown. The Official Funeral Service will commence at 3:00pm. The late Swanston Carbon will be laid to rest at Roseau Roman Catholic Cemetery.Dominica Vibes News LocalNews Official Funeral & Day of Mourning for former senator by: – September 10, 2014 119 Views   no discussionscenter_img Share Share Sharing is caring!last_img read more