Some Recommendations

In terms of policy implications there are a number of suggestions to be made. Testimony on the strength and weaknesses of the empirical evidence, and the different theoretical interpretations of the other-race effect, may be of assistance to the trier of fact in cases involving disputed eyewitness evidence. Expert testimony on the other-race effect would draw jurors' attention to the fact that a cross-racial identification could be highly problematic.

Expert testimony in itself will not resolve the other-race problem, however. Attention has to be directed to the initial identification stage not to the trial stage. Wells and Olson (2001) suggest that the six-person lineup, for example which is used in many jurisdiction, be increased by adding more fillers in other-race cases. The use of a large numbers of fillers who are known to be innocent persons would serve to protect an innocent suspect by increasing the chances that a filler and not the innocent suspect would be selected. Also, blank lineups in which the suspect is not present, followed by the presentation of an actual lineup containing the suspect, could be used in the case of other-race suspects. If an eyewitness selected someone from a blank lineup the identification would be incorrect and harmless. However, if the blank lineup was correctly rejected, the suspect-present lineup could then be given without the concern that the witness was overly willing to just identify someone. Furthermore, if an identification of the suspect was made with the second lineup more confidence could be attached to the reliability of the identification. It has also been suggested that the selection of fillers in the construction of the lineup should be done by persons who are the same race as the suspect (Brigham and Ready, 1985). Wells and Olson (2001)

would even go so far as to suggest that if there is a question of a biased lineup at trial that the trial judge be of the same race as the defendant. Otherwise, the Court may fail to appreciate the potential biases of why the other-race defendant would stand out as distinctive.

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