This week I did some research into the recent Perry v. New Hampshire Supreme Court decision. In the case, Barion Perry was convicted of theft after he was pointed out by a witness who saw Perry, the only man present next to a police officer at the scene of the crime, from her apartment window in the middle of the night. Citing that the identification circumstances were overwhelmingly suggestive, Perry appealed his case to the Supreme Court. The Court ruled in an 8-1 majority that the case did not warrant a judicial inquiry into the reliability of the identification evidence, because, according to the established Manson test of reliability, the suggestive circumstances were not the direct result of police intervention.
Studies have shown that suggestive identification procedures can lead to a number of misidentifications, but what can be said about procedures that are intentionally and unduly suggestive, and those that are suggestive but unintentional (as in Perry)?
Although Perry is admittedly a unique case, it does bring up the question of what the interests of the court are or should be – should we be making an effort to eliminate wrongful convictions of the innocent at all costs by closely examining all unreliable evidence, or only those that are caused by intentional police misconduct?
The Research Process
I learned that no matter how hard I tried to space out my work, I would always end up spending too much time finding “the perfect article,” or “the perfect document” and as a result had to cram a lot of my work in right before it was due. Luckily, most of the search for sources is over, and I might actually get some sleep this weekend!
I also learned how to cite a slip opinion of the Supreme Court, that is, a recent opinion that has yet to be published officially. For example, this is how you would cite the Perry case:
Perry v. New Hampshire, 565 U.S. slip op. (2012).
(565 refers to the volume of the United States Reports. With cases that have been published in one of the volumes, the page number would appear here.)
In addition, I learned that when citing court opinions in APA style, the name of the case is always it its abbreviated form. A quick search on Lexis Nexis, I’ve found, does the trick.
I hope to refine, and perhaps even completely alter my research question next week. Here’s to more digging (and sleep!).