Boston Herald
 July 20, 2004 

 A big push for justice: 
 City to make sweeping changes to prevent wrongful imprisonments
 By Maggie Mulvihill

 Triggered by a shocking string of high-profile cases in which innocent men 
 were wrongfully imprisoned for rape and murder, Suffolk County prosecutors 
 and Boston police will tomorrow unveil a sweeping overhaul in their 
 handling of eyewitness identifications of suspects.

 ``We are earnestly seeking justice here,'' Suffolk County District 
 Attorney Daniel Conley said yesterday. ``It serves no end when the wrong 
 person goes to prison for a crime he or she didn't commit.''

 ``The reforms that we have agreed upon will go a long, long way to ensure 
 that we do a much better job in prosecuting these kinds of cases.''

 A Herald/Fox 25 investigative report in May documented the cases of at 
 least 21 Massachusetts men - mostly minorities - who had spent needless 
 years in prison for brutal crimes such as rape or murder they didn't 

 Several of those were convicted through flawed eyewitness testimony 
 gathered by Boston police, including Marlon Passley, 31, who served four 
 years in prison for a 1995 gangland-style murder and Donnell Johnson, 26, 
 who served five years in prison for a 1994 murder of a 9-year-old Roxbury 

 Under the proposed reforms, witnesses will now be shown a suspect's 
 photograph or view a suspect in a lineup one at a time, instead of 
 grouping the photos together or having the suspects file out in a lineup 

 An officer completely unconnected to the criminal case with no knowledge 
 of the true suspect will now handle all of the witness's identifications, 
 the report is expected to state.

 ``It's a completely different test of recognition,'' said Boston attorney 
 James M. Doyle, a task force member and an adviser to the Department of 
 Justice on its 1999 guidelines.

 ``It is just the way scientists are doing drug testing where the doctor 
 and the patient will be unaware of which drug is the real drug and which 
 is the placebo.''

 Doyle said this new method of doing photo arrays and lineups will also 
 prevent officers from consciously or subconsciously exhibiting body 
 language about which suspect to choose.

 ``The problem is even when you are playing it straight the tendency is to 
 give cues even if you are not aware you are doing it,'' Doyle said. ``And 
 the witness - if they think you know the answer - may be trying to read 
 cues even if you aren't giving them.''

 Other proposed reforms include the recording of all criminal suspects 
 during interrogations - not just homicide suspects.

 Eyewitnesses will also now be asked to sign a form expressing their level 
 of confidence in their choice of suspect as well as acknowledge they 
 understand eyewitness identification is meant to clear the innocent as 
 well as convict the guilty, the report is expected to state.

 Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole said she believes the BPD is the 
 first major metropolitan department to adopt such substantive changes in 
 police handling of eyewitness identification.

 ``If we set the gold standard here in Boston on this issue, I'm very 
 pleased with that,'' she said.

 The reforms are included in a 24-page draft report titled: ``Report on the 
 Task Force on Eyewitness Evidence.'' The report is expected to be issued 
 tomorrow by Conley and O'Toole.

 The task force comprises senior prosecutors in Conley's office, members of 
 the criminal defense bar in Boston, police supervisors and an 
 international expert on the perils of eyewitness identification, Iowa 
 State University psychology professor Gary L. Wells.

 The reforms are modeled on 1999 Department of Justice recommendations 
 aimed at improving the accuracy of the identification of criminal suspects.