"They may as well have made him wear a target on his chest or a sign over his head saying ‘pick me,’" says US federal court

I just came across an interesting decision issued last month from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, in which the court considered (and rejected) eyewitness evidence in support of an extradition request by the Republic of Poland. In re Mazur, Slip Copy, 2007 WL 2122401 (N.D.Ill. 2007).

The evidence presented in support of the government’s probable cause showing included a live lineup of four men. Three of the men were “dressed in dark, subdued colors, whereas Mr. Mazur is wearing a bright red, slightly oversized jacket” — a jacket “foisted” on Mr. Mazur by the authorities “in an effort to make his dress look less formal.” In the words of the district court, “They may as well have made him wear a target on his chest or a sign over his head saying ‘pick me.'” The court went on to say that the ID procedure employed by Polish authorities “would never pass muster in this country,” that the lineup was unduly suggestive and “highly suspect.” It further found that “the government’s reliance on this identification is shocking and offensive.” Id. at *24.

If only our courts could save some of that disdain for the procedures routinely done by our own police.

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