132 S. Ct. 716
PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Petitioner defendant was charged with unauthorized taking and criminal mischief, and he filed a motion to suppress a witness's identification on the ground that admitting it at trial would violate due process. The New Hampshire Superior Court denied the motion and a jury convicted defendant of theft. The Supreme Court of New Hampshire affirmed, and the U.S. Supreme Court certiorari.
OVERVIEW: Defendant was arrested and charged with unauthorized taking and criminal mischief after police responded to a caller who reported that an African-American male was trying to break into cars parked outside his apartment building and the caller's wife told a police officer that she saw defendant open the trunk of a neighbor's car. Defendant moved to suppress the wife's identification, and the trial court denied the motion and convicted defendant of theft. Defendant's conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire, and the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari. The Court held that the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution did not require trial judges to conduct preliminary assessments of the reliability of eyewitness identifications that were made under suggestive circumstances when the circumstances were not created by law enforcement personnel. A primary aim of the line of cases which excluded eyewitness identification evidence that was obtained under unnecessarily suggestive circumstances that police created was to deter police from using improper procedures, and that rationale was inapposite in cases where there was no improper police conduct.
OUTCOME: The Supreme Court affirmed. 8-1 Decision; 1 concurrence; 1 dissent.
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