Yesterday I lamented not citing EvidenceProf Blog although I find its posts really informative, just not directly relevant to what we talk about here. Well, this post is close enough, and interesting to boot, that I thought I’d give you a taste of what I was talking about if you need your whistle whetted, which is something I always enjoy:
On Tuesday, a Knox County Criminal Court jury found Doug Glenn Flack guilty of assaulting Tenisha Bright by punching her in the face in the parking garage outside a movie theater at a Tennessee mall. This verdict came despite the caucasian Bright having apparent difficulty identifying the african-american Bright as her assailant.
Specifically, a month after she was assaulted in 2004, Bright picked out someone other than Flack at a police lineup. At a subsequent police lineup, however, Bright did pick out Flack as her assailant. At trial, though, even with Flack sitting right in front of her in the courtroom, when presented with an assortment of mugshots, Bright picked out the mugshot of another man as her assailant. When asked to point to her assailant, however, Bright was able to identify Flack, the only African-American man sitting at the defense table. During trial, Flack's attorney attempted to question a detective about the problems with an eyewitness of one race identifying a person of another race, but Judge Kenneth F. Irvine Jr. precluded this line of questioning.
Judge Irvine's decision makes sense because I doubt that the detective had the qualifications to be able to render an expert opinion on the issue of the unreliability of cross-racial identifications. However, while the detective could thus not have been questioned about the unreliability of cross-racial identifications, I know that most courts have found that such testimony is admissible when presented by an expert witness. See United States v. Angleton, 269 F.Supp.2d 868, 873 (S.D. Tex. 2003).
Another very well done blog that I’ve not cited before, more from inertia and mental defect than anything else, is a public defender, where right now you’ll find a couple of great posts, one on research done on disparity in judicial treatment by race and on the characteristics associated with successful defense attorneys (surprise, it depends on your experience, not where you went to school) and one on reflections on the proposals being considered for changes in CT’s crim just system in light of the recent murders there that have spurred more attention. Definitely worth your time and thought.