Sumner v. Mata
446 U.S. 1302 (1980)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Sumner v. Mata, 446 U.S. 1302 (1980)

Sumner v. Mata

No. A 882 (71-1601)

Decided May 1, 1980

446 U.S. 1302

Syllabus

An application for a stay, pending consideration of a petition for certiorari, of the Court of Appeals' mandate under which a writ of habeas corpus would issue unless California granted respondent a new trial on a murder charge, is granted. In holding that certain witnesses' in-court identifications of respondent at his state trial were tainted by pretrial identifications resulting from impermissibly suggestive photographic arrays, the Court of Appeals reasoned that photographic identification, as opposed to less suggestive procedures, was not necessary under the circumstances, and that there was a very substantial likelihood of misidentification due to the procedures employed. Given the tension between the Court of Appeals' analysis and this Court's decisions indicating that reliability, not necessity, is the linchpin in determining the admissibility of identification testimony, and given the apparent conflict between the Court of Appeals' decision and a decision of another Court of Appeals, it appears that four Members of this Court are likely to vote to grant certiorari in this case.

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