A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cops, Prosecutors Fight The Enemy: Innocence

"The proposal is designed to help prevent wrongful convictions, but is opposed by the law enforcement lobby.”

That's a real quote.

It's about yesterday's passage of a bill creating a "blind" administrator when showing photo line-ups to witnesses and victims.

Makes sense. This way there is no question that the administrator is not skewing the results with a little nod or something more specific.

It's like the difference between having a judge who is the brother of one of the lawyers, or one who has no interest in the outcome of the case.

But innocence legislation is always controversial, because innocence is embarrassing, and anything that addresses the problem creates questions about law enforcement - police and prosecutors - that law and order types don't want asked.

That's the issue, that the mere creation of laws designed to protect the innocent - you know, like the 267 nationwide that have been exonerated - 75 due to eyewitness misidentification - is a problem. Once we officially recognize the problem, it actually exists.

Doesn't it make sense that if we are trying to prevent eyewitness misidentification, that taking bias out of the photo lineup process would be a good start?

The Florida Sheriff's Association, the Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association are all opposed.

And when law enforcement opposes legislation, you get thoughtful responses like this:

Sen. Paula Dockery, R- Lakeland, said she was voting against Negron's bill because she didn't feel comfortable opposing law enforcement groups.

And who wants anyone to be uncomfortable when were talking about innocent people going to prison or death row?

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer.Share/Save/Bookmarkokdork.com rules Post to Twitter


  1. M. Stephen Stanfield3:21 PM

    I wonder what bullshit the stalker cop that follows this blog is going to post.

    I honestly can't wait to read it.

  2. Anonymous6:20 PM

    Shameful and reprehensible.

    Lance O. Mixon, Esq.
    Jackson, MS

  3. Anonymous10:16 PM

    I would be the "stalker cop" following this blog. Although I am unclear how following and posting on a blog site is stalking. Maybe you understand the term differently than I do.

    My state also has a similar "blind administrator" way to show photo line ups. I think it is a great idea and fully support it. You have to do a little more work to set up the photo array and get someone else to show it. I have no problem at all with that. The last thing I want to see is a factually innocent person get charged. I also support audio taping (and videotaping if possible) all interviews and statements. Not quite what you were expecting, eh? :-)

  4. Mike Foley2:53 PM

    No, definitely not what most of us were expecting - as witnessed by the response of the police chiefs and prosecutors in Flor-i-duh.

  5. Anonymous1:10 AM

    I have said it before on this blog. If I don't have 110% (far beyond the 51% probable cause), I am very hesitant to charge people. Heck, even when I have that level of guilt (like watching them on video tape do the crime and a confession) I prefer to resolve many cases without charges.

  6. I wonder how uncomfortable the Senator would be spending years in prison on a bad ID or being executed for a crime she did not commit. Maybe she should consider the prosepct of a person that actually committed the crime, but is loose on the streets because of a bad ID, could be free and committing more crimes? Ahh, but we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings in law enforcement or affect anyone's re-election campaign. Let's just keep paying out millions we don't have to wrongfully convicted men that languish for years in prison sufferring summary denial after summary denial until they get someone to take their case pro bono because that lawyer is so offended by the injustice. Then we can act like it is an anomaly and stick our heads back in the sand. Oh, that's right, we already do that.