Misidentifications contributed to 75 percent of the 301 exonerations that Innocence Project and affiliated groups have secured.
So instructions for proper use of eyewitness testimony is extremely important to fair trials.
from the article:
- Citing research over the past 30 years, the justices determined that Oregon's two-step process for weighing eyewitness identifications -- established in 1979 -- "does not accomplish its goal of ensuring that only sufficiently reliable identifications are admitted into evidence." That process requires that a court first determine whether investigators used "suggestive" tactics to get an identification and then whether other information -- independent of the suggestive tactics -- supports the identification. But it doesn't account for other factors found to affect eyewitness identifications, the court wrote. For example, if an investigator offers "confirming feedback" to a witness who makes an identification, the witness feels an inflated sense of confidence in the accuracy. Stress and fear also can hinder a witness' ability to make accurate identifications, the court wrote. And even the level of lighting or the race of the witness compared to the suspect can impede accuracy.
Under the revised test, if a defendant objects to eyewitness identification evidence, the burden is on prosecutors to show its validity. That may entail proving that the witness had "an adequate opportunity to observe" whatever they plan to testify about. It also may mean showing the identification was "rationally based" on qualities such as facial features, for example, but generally not such indistinct characteristics as race, height, weight and clothing.
See the ruling Oregon v Lawson (CC 03CR1469FE; CA A132640; SC S059234 (Control))
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