A report released yesterday by the Innocence Project of Texas examines the practice of dog scent lineups, which is still employed in Texas cases despite serious questions about its reliability.
Scent lineups conducted by a Texas sheriff’s deputy named Keith Pikett are being challenged in two federal lawsuits, filed by men who were accused of crimes they didn’t commit based on faulty dog scent evidence. The new report alleges that scent lineups are completely unreliable and have contributed to wrongful convictions. A British police canine-handling expert reviewed a videotape of a scent lineup performed by Pikett and said:
“This is the most primitive evidential police procedure I have ever witnessed,” he said. “It goes against all the principles of tracking and trailing.”
The Texas report alleges that Texas prosecutors use Pikett’s scent lineups to confirm suspicions about a suspect. The report quotes a prosecutor, who wrote on a public message board in June:
Woo-hoo! Just got word that Keith's dogs unanimously hit on my evidence today, just as we'd hoped. Did I mention that I'm a big fan!
Download the full report at the Innocence Project of Texas website
. IPOT is a member of the Innocence Network.
Learn more about the Innocence Project’s call for an independent federal agency to support the forensic disciplines and set science-based standards