STATEMENT BY NEW YORK STATE BAR PRESIDENT VINCENT E.
DOYLE III ON ASSEMBLY CODES COMMITTEE ADVANCING WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS
The State Bar Association commends the Assembly Codes Committee for
reporting A.5317-A (O’Donnell), legislation proposed by the
Association to reform the criminal procedure law regarding eyewitness
The bill would require police agencies to adopt
“double-blind” lineup procedures to remove the possibility
that a police officer – either deliberately or inadvertently
– might influence a witness in selecting a particular suspect.
This can be accomplished by having the lineup overseen by an officer who
does not know the identity of the actual suspect. The bill is part of a
legislative package by the Association to address the root causes of
wrongful convictions in New York
In 2009, the Bar Association’s Task Force on Wrongful
Convictions identified several factors contributing to wrongful
convictions. Among its recommendations: videotaping interrogations
in order to discourage coerced confessions; improving police lineups to
achieve more accurate eyewitness testimony; and requiring prosecutors to
turn over more evidence that might help clear a suspect.
A report this week by the University of Michigan and Northwestern
University law schools highlighted the fact that wrongful convictions
are a serious problem for the criminal justice system. During the
past 23 years, more than 2,000 individuals in the United States were
falsely convicted of serious crimes—and later exonerated.
Now is the time for New York to step up and take a leadership role on
this issue. The Legislature and the Governor should put this topic
on their priority list and pass remedial legislation this session.
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, ONE ELK STREET, ALBANY, NY 12207 PH: (518) 463-3200 SECURE FX: (518) 463-5993