HD40 - Report on Mistaken Eyewitness Identification

Executive Summary:
During the 2004 Session of the Virginia General Assembly, Delegate Harry R. Purkey introduced House Joint Resolution 79 (HJR 79) (*1), directing the Virginia State Crime Commission to study mistaken identification in criminal cases. Specifically, the resolution directs the commission to: (i) review the cases in the United States in which DNA profiling was used to exonerate persons convicted of a crime; (ii) examine the procedures used in traditional police lineups or photographic review; and, (iii) consider the sequential method as a procedure for identifying suspects. As a result of the study effort, the staff made recommendations to improve the procedures for conducting lineups in the Commonwealth of Virginia. These recommendations, as follows, were approved by the Virginia State Crime Commission:


Recommendation 1: Amend the Code of Virginia to require local police and sheriff’s departments to have a written policy for conducting in-person and photographic lineups.

Recommendation 2: Request the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), in cooperation with the Virginia State Crime Commission, to establish a workgroup to develop a model policy for conducting in-person and photographic lineups.

Recommendation 3: Request DCJS, through regulation, to amend the entry level and in-service training academy requirements regarding lineups to include only use of the sequential method, by October 1, 2005.

Recommendation 4: Request DCJS to work with the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission to include the sequential method for conducting lineups as part of the accreditation process for law enforcement agencies.

Recommendation 5: Require DCJS, in conjunction with the Crime Commission, work with the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association and the Virginia Chiefs of Police Association to assist members in using and understanding the benefits of the sequential method of lineups; presentation to each association’s annual meetings will occur.

Recommendation 6: Amend the Code of Virginia to designate the Virginia State Police, through their oversight of the Central Criminal Records Exchange, as a repository for all mug shots and queries for photographic lineups.
(*1) House Joint Resolution 79 (2004). See Attachment 1.