Eyewitness Identification Reform in Utah
In 2019, the Utah Supreme Court approved a rule that allows judges to suppress eyewitness identifications where a fact-finder could not reasonably rely on the identification evidence. That finding may be based on estimator variables (external factors that influence eyewitness memory and its accuracy), or the failure of law enforcement to adhere to scientifically-supported best practices for identification procedures, including: blind/blinded administration, proper witness instructions, proper filler composition, and witness confidence statements. The rule also allows for the admission of expert testimony regarding eyewitness identification and allows for a jury instruction on eyewitness identification to be provided if requested. Effective: November 2019.