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RCA@co.ramsey.mn.us

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Resources for Criminal Justice Professionals


We are pleased to share resources developed by this office during the course of three related justice initiatives.  The first initiative involved a systematic review by the Former Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner of past convictions to determine if DNA evidence could shed new light on these cases.  That DNA Project led to the creation of an evidence retention policy, and implementation of new eyewitness identification procedures.  The availability of these document is part of our pledge to the improvement of our criminal justice system.  No justice is served when the wrong person is convicted and the right person remains at large.   

Resources
  • Ramsey County Evidence Retention Policy (pdf) (word)
  • Blind Sequential Photo Display Form (pdf) (word)
  • Blind Sequential Basics Handout (pdf) (word)
  • Blind Sequential Basics PowerPoint (pdf) (ppt)
  • The How and Why of Blind Sequential Lineup Reform (pdf) (word)
  • Blind Sequential Lineup Reform Long Version PowerPoint (pdf) (ppt)
  • Alternate Simplified Instructions 
    (for children and persons with limited English) (pdf) (word)
Evidence RetentionImage of Evidence vial

One of the most significant results of the DNA Project was the adoption of a Uniform Evidence Retention Policy by Ramsey County law enforcement agencies.  The Ramsey County Attorney's Office worked closely with law enforcement agencies in County and the Ramsey County District Court to develop the policy, which when adopted in 2004, was one of the first such uniform evidence retention policies in the country.

The policy includes groundbreaking new procedures to ensure that DNA evidence is preserved for future testing.  It also includes guidelines for retaining other types of evidence ranging from fingerprints and firearms to drugs and stolen property in felony criminal cases.

"This policy reflects a strong determination to find the truth in every criminal case," said then-Chief William K. Finney of the St. Paul Police Department. "The proper handling of evidence is a key factor in building a solid criminal case and proving the guilt or innocence of a defendant."

Eyewitness Identification

The DNA Project also underscored another very concerning issue:  faulty eyewitness identifications resulting in wrongful convictions.  The most widely used photo identification procedure, both in Ramsey County and nationwide, has been the simultaneous display of several photos - often by an investigator with knowledge of the case.  Scientific research, however, has demonstrated that a sequential photo display by an independent administrator is a superior procedure.

In 2005, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office initiated a pilot project to conduct sequential photo lineups using independent administrators and standardized instructions to the witness (View forms: Blind Sequential Photo Display and Alternate Simplified Instructions). The pilot project yielded positive results, and new procedures utilizing sequential photo lineups have now been implemented countywide.