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Friday, March 15, 2013

Defending The Usual Suspect

"A Fair Lineup" according to D.A.
I have a current case in which my client is charged with a number of robberies. The judge, at my request, ordered a pre-preliminary hearing lineup to see if the witnesses could identify my client as the culprit. So, after   several months of motions and haggling over details, the time came to conduct the lineup a couple of nights ago. 

I went with my investigator to the LASD Men's Central Jail to meet with the D.A., a couple of LAPD detectives and five witnesses. While the witnesses were briefed on the procedure and seated in the front row facing the stage where the "suspects" would be arrayed, we stood at the rear with the deputy D.A. who has been assigned to this case. 

Following the protocol, the sheriff had found five inmates to join my client in the lineup. Each was dressed in similar jail attire, were close in height, ethnic appearance, hair, clean shaven, and each were instructed to stand and walk without bringing undue attention to themselves. 

The D.A. was appalled. "Damn, they look so much alike! How can you expect people to pick the right one?!"

I said, "You've got a great argument there. 'No wonder they couldn't identify the defendant. The lineup was too fair!"