Second Circuit — Eyewitness Testimony: Young v. Conway
Posted: 5:46 pm Mon, October 22, 2012
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Young v. Conway
Judges B.D. Parker, Hall and Carney
Background: The district court granted the petitioner a writ of habeas corpus, vacating his conviction for robbery and burglary and barring the state from retrying him. He had been convicted based on the victim’s in-court identification and testimony that she had identified him in a lineup held one month after the crime. He was the only person in the lineup whose picture had also been included in a photographic array shown to the victim two days earlier, when she failed to make the identification. He had been convicted at a second trial where the court found that the in-court identification had a basis independent of the tainted lineup. The state appealed arguing that the petitioner had a full and fair opportunity to litigate his Fourth Amendment claim in court.
Ruling: The Second Circuit affirmed the vacatur of the conviction. The court found that the in-court identification was improper as the victim had testified that she could not assist in a composite sketch or recall any details of the perpetrator’s mouth, ears, forehead, facial hair or hairstyle. The Second Circuit found that the identification was tainted because after she was exposed to the photo array, she was unable to partition her memory in such a way as to know that the suspect’s increased familiarity was due to the photo array, rather than the suspect’s presence at the time of the crime.
Geoffrey Kaeuper, assistant district attorney, for the respondent-appellant; John H. Blume of the Cornell Death Penalty Project for the petitioner-appellee