Defending Due Process: The Case for Abolishing the Show-Up Line-Up


The “show-up”—a single suspect being presented to witnesses for identification—is a common tool employed by police in an investigation. While the tactic seems helpful on its face, the show-up can be a problematic and unreliable tactic that creates a suggestive outcome for the witness, who has often only had a fleeting view of the suspect. Despite repeated and sharp attacks on show-up identifications, police continue to employ and courts continue to admit show-ups. This Note advocates for the enactment of a statute to abolish police use of the show-up. Bertelsman argues that the current tests utilized by courts to determine the validity of a show-up are flawed and allow well-intentioned judges to admit suggestive identifications and make it easy for police officers to construct an “exigent circumstance” defense to circumvent safeguards. Bertelsman concludes that his proposal for a strict statutory regulation abolishing the show-up is the only way to end this damaging practice and preserve a defendant’s due process rights.


Show-up, Witness Identification, Suggestive Identification, Exigent Circumstance, Due Process Right



Stephen Bertelsman (Washington University School of Law in St. Louis)



Publication details



All rights reserved

Peer Review

This article has not been peer reviewed.

File Checksums (MD5)

  • PDF: de538cc119e714187aeb5a7cd1933106