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Name: Perry v. New Hampshire
Case #: Oct-74
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 01/11/2012
Subsequent History: 132 S.Ct. 716; 181 L.Ed.2d 694
Summary

Due Process does not require a preliminary assessment of reliability of eye witness identification made under suggestive circumstances not arranged by police. A witness observed a male trying to break into cars in the parking lot of her apartment building and reported the incident to the police. Upon arrival at the building, an officer contacted petitioner in the parking lot and questioned him as to his activities. The officer then contacted the witness and asked for an identification of the person the witness had observed. The witness pointed out the window at petitioner. At trial, petitioner unsuccessfully moved to suppress the identification, claiming it amounted to a one-person show-up, guaranteeing an identification. On appeal, he contended the trial court erred by failing to initially evaluate the reliability of the identification before allowing presentation to the jury. The Supreme Court rejected the contention, finding no denial of Due Process. When the identification was not obtained under unnecessarily suggestive circumstances arranged by law enforcement, the court is not required to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the reliability of the witness. A primary aim of excluding evidence obtained under unnecessarily suggestive circumstances is to deter law enforcement use of improper lineups, show-ups and photo arrays in the first place. Such deterrence is not necessary in a case such as this where the police engaged in no improper conduct. Other safeguards, such as cross-examination of the witness, exist to test the witness’ credibility.