State of Connecticut v. Troy Artis
Brief Filed: 10/13
Court: Supreme Court of the State of Connecticut
Year of Decision: 2014
Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 200KB)
Whether the appellate court majority properly determined that admission of the victim's in-court and out-of-court identifications following a suggestive police display of the defendant's photograph was a reversible due process violation.
Eyewitness Identification Research
This case before the Supreme Court of the State of Connecticut involves the same research as presented in Perry v. New Hampshire but involves a different legal issue. In this case, Artis was convicted as an accessory to the first-degree assault in connection with a club flight. The central issue is whether the trial court's admission into evidence of the victim's out-of-court identification of the defendant violated the defendant's due process rights under Manson v. Brathwaite, 432 U.S. 98 (1977), and Neil v. Biggers, 409 U.S. 188 (1972). Here, all parties and the courts agree that the identification procedure was unnecessarily suggestive. The trial and appellate courts disagreed, however, in the application of the reliability factors. The State appealed the reversal of Artis's conviction to the Supreme Court of the State of Connecticut, which agreed to hear the case.
APA filed an amicus brief providing the court with an overview of the strong body of research showing the variables that affect accuracy of eyewitness identification, specifically addressing the point that suggestive circumstances that will affect eyewitness identification can occur without police action and that limiting due process protections to only those faulty eyewitness identification procedures that are caused by state actors is too narrow a band of protection. In this case, the state's sweeping attacks on the appellate court's ruling (and on psychological research and researchers) are addressed in detail in the APA brief as lacking merit. APA's brief also notes that courts throughout the country have acknowledged that the relevant research is reliable and properly considered by the courts.
On Oct. 21, 2014, the Supreme Court of Connecticut reversed the appellate court decision and remanded the case to that court to affirm the trial court decision. The Connecticut Supreme Court concluded that 1) the harmless error review applied to the admission of unreliable eyewitness identifications that were the product of unnecessarily suggestive procedures; 2) the state's use of unreliable eyewitness identifications resulting from unduly suggestive police procedures was not one of the rare circumstances necessitating a new trial, as such identification evidence did not inevitably undermine the integrity or legitimacy of the adjudicatory process, but rather, reviewing courts were fully capable of ascertaining whether the admission of such tainted evidence affected the fact finder's ultimate determination; and 3) even if the admission of the victim's identification testimony was improper, it was harmless in light of a witness's independent identification of defendant, whom she knew, as the individual who initially confronted the victim and as one of the individuals who assaulted him.