Manson v. Brathwaite
432 U.S. 98 (1977)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Manson v. Brathwaite, 432 U.S. 98 (1977)

Manson v. Brathwaite

No. 75-871

Argued November 29, 1976

Decided June 16, 1977

432 U.S. 98

Syllabus

Glover, a trained Negro undercover state police officer, purchased heroin from a seller through the open doorway of an apartment while standing for two or three minutes within two feet of the seller in a hallway illuminated by natural light. A few minutes later, Glover described the seller to another police officer as being

"a colored man, approximately five feet eleven inches tall, dark complexion, black hair, short Afro style, and having high cheekbones, and of heavy build."

The other police officer, suspecting from the description that respondent might be the seller, left a police photograph of respondent at the office of Glover, who viewed it two days later and identified it as the picture of the seller. In a Connecticut court, respondent was charged with, and convicted of, possession and sale of heroin, and at his trial, held some eight months after the crime, the photograph was received in evidence without objection and Glover testified that there was no doubt that the person shown in the photograph was respondent and also made a positive in-court identification without objection. After the Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, respondent filed a petition for habeas corpus in Federal District Court, alleging that the admission of the identification testimony at his state trial deprived him of due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court dismissed the petition, but the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that evidence as to the photograph should have been excluded, regardless of reliability, because the examination of the single photograph was unnecessary and suggestive, and that the identification was unreliable in any event.

Held: The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not compel the exclusion of the identification evidence. Pp. 432 U. S. 109-117.

(a) Reliability is the linchpin in determining the admissibility of identification testimony for confrontations occurring both prior to and after Stovall v. Denno,388 U. S. 293, wherein it was held that the determination depends on the "totality of the circumstances." Id. at 388 U. S. 302. The factors to be weighed against the corrupting effect of the suggestive procedure in assessing reliability are set out in Neil v. Biggers,409 U. S. 188, and include the witness' opportunity to view the criminal

Page 432 U. S. 99

at the time of the crime, the witness' degree of attention, the accuracy of his prior description of the criminal, the level of certainty demonstrated at the confrontation, and the time between the crime and the confrontation. Pp. 432 U. S. 109-114.

(b) Under the totality of the circumstances in this case, there doe not est "a very substantial likelihood of irreparable misidentification." Simmons v. United States,390 U. S. 377, 390 U. S. 384. Glover, no casual observer but a trained police officer, had a sufficient opportunity to view the suspect, accurately described him, positively identified respondent's photograph as that of the suspect, and made the photograph identification only two days after the crime. Pp. 432 U. S. 114-117.

527 F.2d 363, reversed.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, WHITE, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 432 U. S. 117. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 432 U. S. 118.

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