News 05.22.07

NJ’s highest court tells judges to warn jurors about eyewitness error

Eyewitness misidentification was involved in 77 percent of wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA evidence. Yesterday, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that judges in the state must warn jurors that eyewitnesses may be wrong, no matter how confident they seem on the stand.

In a unanimous opinion, the state’s high court said the “fallibility of eyewitness identifications” led them to revise the instructions judges read to jurors on how they should decide a suspect’s guilt under the law.

“We believe that particular care need be taken in respect of this powerful evidence — the eyewitness,” Supreme Court Justice Jaynee LaVecchia wrote for the court. “Eyewitness identification testimony requires close scrutiny and should not be accepted uncritically.”


Read the full story here

. (Newark Star-Ledger, 5/22/07)

The justices also found yesterday that cases involving cross-ethnic, yet same-race, identifications did not require a special cross-racial identification jury charge. Read more about this on the

Eyewitness Identification Reform Blog

.


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