ER wrote:I think what Kevin was really getting at is that many defense attorneys and 'critics' don't care whether it's a good ID or not. They just want the evidence out of the trial.
You've got two different groups lumped in here.
When it's my client and my case, my job is to zealously defend the client within the bounds of the law. If there's a forensics issue, I have an ethical duty to investigate it and get up to speed on it. Then I need to advise the client about my opinion of the strenght of the prosecution case and the likelihood of success at trial and the range of sentence if there's a conviction and to communicate a plea offer (if any). Client has an absolute constitutional right to decide whether to accept the plea or go to trial. So if the client wants to go to trial, and there's forensics, it's my duty under the ethics rules to zealously investigate and challenge that evidence which may mean hiring a defense expert, or making a Daubert challenge, or vigorously cross-examining the forensics witness, or arguing innocent access. Any of these are possible.
When I'm not advocating for a specific client, I'm very concerned about the integrity of the criminal justice system. I want you guys to use solid valid science and practices to find the culpirt, get him or her off the streets, and not leave the wrong bad guy out there. I don't ever want to be in the position of being one of the attorneys for someone who is exonerated decades down the road because I, and the system, failed them. A month or so ago, Jennifer Thompson spoke in support of CT's new eyewitness ID billhttp://www.ctn.state.ct.us/show_info.asp?mbID=18567
(Time 15:25 to 50:00) This woman was a genuine victim of a horrible crime. And using then-standard, but bad ID procedures she picked the wrong guy as the culpri and he went to jail for a long time. When he was exonerated and the right guy went to jail, she had to deal with the guilt of having been part of this terrible mistake. This should not have happened, and I'm working hard in the ID area particularly to make sure it doesn't happen again.
The critics, I know several of them, at least by email and the occassional meeting at a conference. I think virtually all of them genuinely see a problem and want to make it better. If the evidence is ambiguous and the science or practices flawed, how can anyone be sure if it is a good ID or not? Mayfield's ID looked good to three senior FBI guys and to a court-appointed expert -- absent the Spanish police, I think the courts, the jury, virtually everyone would have said good ID, 100% certain, zero error rate. I don't want to see another Mayfield -- they are rare, but that's no comfort to the innocent guy arrested or the people hurt by the bad guy left on the streets.
We can do better. It is going to be disruptive. It may cost some money. But it needs to happen.
I did see the Frontline at last. I found it rather tame, but that may be because I've been deep in the NAS stuff for so long. I assume the FBI picked the agent to be their spokesperson -- she got a lot of screen time -- I didn't see it as one sided.