A single photographic identification of an alleged assailant rarely survives due process scrutiny. And the Michigan Supreme court reinforced why in People v Thomas, Case No. 155245
. In lieu of granting leave to appeal, the Court reversed a divided Court of Appeals and reinstated the trial court's dismissal of the case because the victim's identification of the defendant from a single cell phone picture was unreliable.
We previously blogged about this case here
. Following a brief assault outside a gas station, the victim was shot and transported to the hospital. A police officer arrived at the scene shortly thereafter and took a single picture of the defendant--who matched the generic physical description given by the victim--as he stood at the gas station. Later at the hospital, the victim was shown the picture and was asked "was this the guy that shot you?"
In a short order, the Supreme Court noted that a "police officer showing a victim just a single photograph is one of the most suggestive photographic identification procedures that can be used." Failing to find any of the "mortal exigenc[ies]" that might excuse such a suggestive procedure, the Court reversed and reinstated dismissal for a violation of due process.