Supreme Court overturns 'unsound' eyewitness identification ruling.

Byline: Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is realigning state law with U.S. Supreme Court decisions concerning the necessary criteria that must be must to ensure due process is carried out in eyewitness identifications. A majority of the state Supreme Court justices ruled Tuesday to overturn the burden placed on the state in State v. Dubose, calling the ruling "unsound in principle."

At the heart of Dubose was a case involving a man charged in a drug deal gone wrong. The state charged Stephan Roberson with first-degree reckless injury after avictim had identified Roberson as the man who shot him during an attempted drug deal.

A police investigator linked a phone number to Roberson's Facebook profile two weeks after the shooting. Police interrogated the victim and asked if he'd be able to use a photo to identify the man who shot him. Court documents say the man answered "possibly, I mean, I don't know, black people kinda," but then said he was 100 percent sure Roberson was the man who shot him when he saw Roberson's picture.

The defense argued the victim was "clearly unsure of the characteristics of African-Americans" and called the identification shaky. The circuit court granted Roberson's motion to suppress the identification and said the victim couldn't identify Roberson in court because the initial identification tainted any subsequent identification.

The court of appeals reversed theruling and said a decisionabout Dubose would be left to the state Supreme Court.

Dubose gave the state the burdenof proving the necessity chosen identification procedures. If the state can't prove that a chosen procedure was necessary, the entire procedure stops, and courts won't consider whether provided evidence is reliable.

The decision differs from the U.S. Supreme Court's due-process analysis. Under this analysis, defendants have to show that the methods law-enforcement officials use to identify a suspect as a perpetrator were "an unnecessarily suggestive identification procedure."

Chief Justice Patience Roggensack and justices Rebecca Bradley, Brian Hagedorn and Dan...

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