News 06.21.10

NJ Judge Calls for Overhaul of Eyewitness Identification Standards

After more than nine months of study, a Special Master appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a landmark report today strongly endorsing the Innocence Project’s recommendation for a new legal architecture to evaluate the reliability of eyewitness testimony.

The 64-page report draws on three decades of social science research and finds that the legal test used by 48 states and the federal courts to determine the reliability of eyewitness testimony is full of “flaws and inadequacies” and should be replaced. Eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions, playing a role in 75% of the 254 DNA exoneration cases to date. The New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the report in response to the 2004 reckless manslaughter and weapons possession conviction of Larry Henderson, who appealed based on faulty eyewitness identification procedures in his case. The Innocence Project, which doesn’t represent Henderson, was called in to present testimony on the science and law of eyewitness identification.

“Taken together, these findings represent a sea change in the treatment of eyewitness identification, both in the collection of evidence and in its presentation to juries,” Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck said today.


Read the Innocence Project press release on the case

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Download the Special Master’s complete report

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Associated Press: N.J. Judge Recommends Change to Police Lineups

Newark Star-Ledger:

N.J. Courts Need Stricter Standards for Eyewitness Testimony, Report Says

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