Articles Tagged with Eyewitness identification

I’ve posted already about the Oregon case – Oregon v. Lawson.

Here is a piece from the excellent Concurring Opinions blog about eyewitness testimony.

I would like to underscore Brandon’s point about reform efforts that are currently underway. While for the most part, the criminal justice process is stuck in a bad place (thanks to a large degree to the US Supreme Court), it is refreshing to note that a few local and state jurisdictions are moving ahead with thoughtful reforms.

Maybe not.  There is quite a bit of research and anecdotal evidence to show that eyewitness testimony can be unreliable.  Now New Jersey is in the frontline of making sure a jury is aware of the potential problems with eyewitness testimony.  To quote the ABA Journal.

New jury instructions in New Jersey will warn that human memory is not foolproof and eyewitness testimony must be carefully scrutinized.

Set to take effect on Sept. 4, the new instructions follow a landmark ruling last year by the New Jersey Supreme Court that makes it easier for defendants to challenge the reliability of eyewitness identifications, the New York Times reports. The decision also required juries to be instructed on the variables that could lead to mistaken identifications.

Professor Colin Miller has posted an excellent piece about the current status of expert testimony about the inaccuracies of eyewitness identification.

I have done several posts on this blog (here, here, here, here, here, and here) about the inaccuracy of regular and cross-racial eyewitness identifications and whether expert testimony about this inaccuracy should be allowed. In a recent post, I noted that "My general sense is that most courts allow such expert testimony although a decent number of courts, such as the Eleventh Circuit and Minnesota courts, preclude it." That post addressed a recent opinion in which the Supreme Court of Utah reversed past precedent and allow for the admission of expert testimony on the inaccuracy of eyewitness identifications. This post addresses a recent opinion, State v. Young, 2010 WL 1286933 (La. 2010), in which the Supreme Court of Louisiana adhered to prior precedent and refused to allow for the admission of expert testimony on the inaccuracy of eyewitness identifications.

Eyewitness Identifications and State Courts as Guardians Against Wrongful Conviction

Sandra Guerra Thompson
University of Houston Law Center
Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Forthcoming
University of Houston Law Center No. 2010-A-1

Despite a growing awareness that mistaken eyewitness identifications contribute significantly to wrongful convictions, most courts continue to apply federal due process criteria for admissibility of eyewitness identification that has proved useless in protect against the use of highly unreliable evidence. In response, this Article reviews the path-breaking decisions of several State Supreme Courts that have blazed their own trail. It explores the issues that courts have addressed, the rules they have devised, and the legal grounds for their decisions, and from this, concludes that State Supreme Courts can implement appropriate criteria that would in fact promote accuracy and fairness in the use of eyewitness identification.
Part I briefly outlines and critiques the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on eyewitness identifications and due process. It treads on ground well-worn by scholars who have for decades decried the Court’s failure to provide a due process test that would protect against the use of unreliable identification evidence. Part II explores the role that State appellate courts can play in developing a jurisprudence of eyewitness identification evidence that meaningfully incorporates social science research and carefully balances the interests of law enforcement and the accused.
Finally, because of the superior role that judges have in protecting both constitutional and civil rights as well as the integrity of the administration of criminal justice, the article concludes that it is incumbent on State Supreme Courts to show leadership in developing solutions to the problems that plague this area . Accordingly, Part III argues that State Supreme Courts are well-suited to take an active part in the “laboratory” model of criminal justice that characterizes our federalist system.

Contact Information