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