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United States v. Wade


Several weeks after the defendant was indicted for robbery he was, without notice to his appointed counsel, placed in a lineup. Each person in the lineup wore strips of tape on his face, as the robber allegedly had done. Upon direction each repeated words like those the robber allegedly had used. Two witnesses identified the defendant as the robber.


Whether the defendant was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel at the lineup?


Yes. Once the Sixth Amendment right to counsel attaches, the defendant is entitled to have counsel present at all critical stages.


The Sixth Amendment guarantees an accused the right to counsel at trial and any critical confrontation by the prosecution. This includes pretrial proceedings where the results could determine his fate and where the absence of counsel might deny his right to a fair trial. A post-indictment lineup is a critical confrontation at which the defendant is entitled to the aid of counsel. There is a great possibility of unfairness to the accused in lineups because of how they are frequently conducted: the dangers inherent in eyewitness identification, the suggestibility inherent in the context of the confrontations, and the unlikelihood that the accused can reconstruct what occurred in later hearings.


388 U.S. 218, 87 S. Ct. 1926 (1967)

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