Presence of Counsel Safeguard and Eyewitness Identification

The presence-of-counsel safeguard, provided by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, guarantees every defendant the right to an attorney both at trial and during pretrial proceedings, including live, postindictment lineups. The presence of an attorney at live, postindictment lineups serves to protect defendants from erroneous convictions resulting from mistaken eyewitness identifications by allowing attorneys to attend pretrial identifications, advise their client of their legal rights and obligations, oppose the use of suggestive lineup procedures, and observe and record any suggestive procedures used during the identification test. Research has examined attorney behavior to determine the effectiveness of this safeguard.

The effectiveness of the presence-of-counsel safeguard rests on several psychological assumptions about attorney behavior. Specifically, for the presence-of-counsel safeguard to be effective, attorneys must be knowledgeable ...

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