Amy Luria


Showup identifications ("showups") are pretrial identifications wherein only one individual is placed before an eyewitness for identification.1 Studies have shown that approximately 40% of eyewitness identifications are mistaken.2 Moreover, there is substantial support for the notion that misidentifications made pursuant to showups are likely more prevalent than misidentifications made pursuant to lineups or photographic arrays. 3 Despite the unreliability of showup identifications, juries generally rely heavily upon these identifications at trial-like they do all eyewitness identifications-even when the defense presents strong evidence that casts substantial doubt upon the accuracy of the identification.4 Due to jury insensitivity to this potential for error, juries may be frequently convicting innocent people on the basis of showup misidentifications. This Article explains that eyewitness misidentifications made pursuant to showups, as well as juror reliance on such misidentifications, result from a combination of factors, including inadequate police procedures for conducting showups, overly lenient admissibility requirements for showup identifications, and judicial failure to admit expert testimony pertaining to eyewitness identifications to aid the jury in evaluating eyewitness identifications. In response to these failings of the current system, this Article recommends restricting when the police may conduct showups, restricting the procedures police officers may use during showups, and heightening the admissibility requirements for showup identifications. Further, this Article recommends that there be general admissibility of expert testimony pertaining to eyewitness identification should be generally admissible to assist juries in evaluating eyewitness testimony. Although many scholars have addressed the problems associated with eyewitness identifications, as well as possible solutions, few have addressed the issue specifically within the context of showup identifications. Moreover, legal scholarship has not suggested a comprehensive approach recommending changes to police procedures, admissibility requirements, and the use of expert witness testimony to address the many problems particular to showup identifications.5 This Article presents such a comprehensive approach.