Local News

N.C. Lawmakers Approve Uniform Standards for Photo Lineups

Posted July 24, 2007 6:07 a.m. EDT
Updated July 24, 2007 8:59 a.m. EDT

— The way police conduct photo lineups will soon change. State lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that requires departments to follow uniform procedures statewide. The new legislation could have helped the Duke lacrosse case.

Most law enforcement agencies already use suggested guidelines, but House Bill 1625 makes it a requirement. One some legislators say is needed to keep innocent people out of jail.

When police asked Crystal Mangum to identify her attackers, they only showed her pictures of Duke lacrosse players. The person who conducted that lineup was also involved in the investigation. The new bill would make both of those acts illegal.

"It'll make sure innocent people are not put through the trauma of an unfair process. It'll lead us to the guilty more quickly," said Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake.

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 -- pictures of people not associated with the crime.

The move also eliminates anyone involved in the investigation from taking part in the lineup procedure.

The bill would not result in any criminal action against an agency, but it would act more as a deterrent. It would ensure that judges and juries would hear about it if an agency did not conduct their lineup according to state law. Judges could also use the law to toss out lineups.