Local News

Bill Could Change Police Line-up Procedures

Posted April 19, 2007 6:33 p.m. EDT
Updated April 19, 2007 6:45 p.m. EDT

— A bill was filed in the state Legislature Thursday that could change the way police conduct photo line-ups. It’s a bill that could have helped in the Duke lacrosse case.

When Durham police asked accuser Crystal Mangum to identify her attackers, they only showed her pictures of 46 Duke Lacrosse players. The person who conducted the line-up was also involved in the investigation.

A bill filed in the General Assembly would make both of those acts illegal.

“It'll make sure innocent people are not put through the trauma of an unfair process,” said Rep. Deborah Ross, (D) Wake County. “It'll also lead us to the guilty more quickly.”

The move came after the state's innocence commission found certain state guidelines resulted in fewer wrongful convictions.

Those requirements have investigators use filler photos of people not associated with the crime. They also eliminate anyone working on the investigation from being involved.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said he agrees with the state guidelines but worries that making it a law could box in officers.

“We don't want to hinder our law enforcement,” he said. “There are investigators who do good police work that isn't set out in a policy anywhere.”

If an agency didn't comply, this bill wouldn't make it a criminal offense. It mainly acts as a deterrent to officers. The bill would also ensure that judges and juries WOULD hear about it if an agency did NOT conduct their lineup according to the state law.

Ross said if it had been in place, perhaps Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and Dave Evans would have never been charged.