Eyewitness Identification Reform
The Michigan Bar Association convened a task force, composed of judges, sheriffs, police chiefs, prosecutors, and defense attorneys, to make recommendations on ways to improve eyewitness identification procedures. In 2012 the task force issued a policy writing guide that included evidence-based practices consistent with those put forward by the National Academy of Sciences. Law enforcement agencies were encouraged to adopt written protocols that comport with the policy writing guide and were also offered training in the new scientifically-supported protocols. Since then, law enforcement agencies covering over 80% of the state's population have implemented policies that include: blind administration; proper filler, on non-suspect, lineup members; proper witness instructions; witness confidence statements; and a recommendation that lineups be video/audio recorded.Michigan Law Enforcement Agencies in Reform for Eyewitness Identification
Recording of Interrogations
Michigan requires that law enforcement officials make a “time-stamped, audiovisual recording” of any interrogation of an individual in custodial detention relating to involvement in the commission of a major felony. The recording is to include the law enforcement official’s notification to the individual of the individual’s Miranda rights. Effective: 2012; Amended most recently: 2013.
Post Conviction DNA Testing
Any person convicted of a crime at trial before January 8, 2001 who is serving a prison sentence for the felony conviction may petition the circuit court to order DNA testing of biological material identified during the investigation leading to his or her conviction, and for a new trial based on the results of that testing. The petition shall be filed not later than January 1, 2012. A person convicted on or after January 8, 2001 may apply for testing if he/she meets certain statutory criteria. Effective: 2001; Amended most recently: 2015.
State statute requires law enforcement to automatically preserve biological material identified during the investigation of a felony that led to a conviction. The evidence must be preserved for the period of time that a person is incarcerated in connection with that case. Effective: 2001; Amended most recently: 2011.
Michigan's statute meets the best practices standards outlined by the NIST Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation.
A wrongfully convicted person is entitled to $50,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment, and reimbursement of attorney fees and correctional fines/fees. Effective: 2017.
Changes in Science
In 2018, Michigan amended its court rule that dictates post-appeal relief. The changes allow a person file a post-conviction motion for relief based on new scientific evidence, including but not limited to: shifts in a field of scientific knowledge, changes in expert knowledge or opinion, and shifts in a scientific method used in a conviction. Effective: January 2019.
Forensic Science Oversight
In 2021, the Michigan governor created a Task Force on Forensic Science by executive order, in an effort to strengthen forensic disciplines, recommend best practices, and investigate issues that may arise within crime labs in the state. Among the duties the task force is charged with are: reviewing the state of forensic science in Michigan; developing recommendations to strengthen forensic science methodologies and practices; developing recommendations for statewide protocols for disclosure of negligence or misconduct by forensic employees; developing recommendations for a post-conviction notification procedure for parties affected by misconduct, negligence, or misapplication of forensic science; and developing a procedure for updating stakeholders on developments in forensic science. The task force is set to issue its findings by December 31, 2021.