Eyewitness Identifications: One More Lesson on the Costs of Excluding Relevant Evidence

6 Pages Posted: 10 May 2014

See all articles by Larry Laudan

Larry Laudan

University of Texas School of Law

Date Written: March 15, 2012

Abstract

Recent research has revealed that sequential lineup eyewitness identifications are less likely to falsely identify an innocent suspect as the culprit than are traditional simultaneous lineups. This has led numerous reformers to advocate (and many jurisdictions to accept) that the latter procedure should be replaced by the former. Clark has rightly pointed out that mis-identification data has another twist that almost everyone else has ignored; to wit, sequential lineups are much more likely to lead to false negatives than are simultaneous lineups.

If, as we have every reason to believe, both types of lineups are more likely to include a guilty party than to include only innocent suspects, there are powerful reasons to say, as Clark does, that sequential lineups are apt to have higher aggregate error rates than simultaneous lineups do. That should give pause to the growing movement to replace the latter by the former.

Keywords: lineups, false positives, false negatives

Suggested Citation

Laudan, Larry, Eyewitness Identifications: One More Lesson on the Costs of Excluding Relevant Evidence (March 15, 2012). U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 561. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2352032 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2352032

Larry Laudan (Contact Author)

University of Texas School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States

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