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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

'Eyewitness protection' bill makes it through Senate



A measure setting new guidelines for police lineups now heads to the Florida House after state senators signed off on the proposal Friday.

With a 34-5 vote, the Senate approved SB 1206, intended to reduce the number of wrongful convictions by, for example, having lineups supervised by police officers who are not involved in an investigation and don't know who the suspect may be.

The bill was put forth by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, a lawyer and member of the state's Innocence Commission.

"Let's not pick out the wrong person out of a lineup to begin with," Negron said. "The vast majority of people who go to trial are convicted."

Though few of Negron's colleagues voted against the proposal, it faced stiff opposition from Sen. Steve Oelrich, a Gainesville Republican and former sheriff who said the bill unfairly targets law enforcement officers.

"Isn't it much more common that the witness just picks out a wrong person, not some skulduggery on the part of law enforcement?" he asked. "The argument can't be that we have every confidence in our cops, yet we're going to make them pay the price."

[Last modified: Friday, April 29, 2011 2:27pm]


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