Eyewitness Identification Reform
In the 2013 State v. Lawson case the Oregon Supreme Court introduced a new admissibility test for eyewitness identification evidence. The test requires that any proponent of eyewitness evidence must bear the preliminary burden of showing that the testimony is based on the witness’s personal knowledge of all the facts to which s/he will testify, and prove that the identification was rationally based on the witness' first hand perceptions and will be helpful to the trier of fact. In response to Lawson, law enforcement agencies have implemented evidence-based best practices, including blind/blinded administration, witness instructions, proper fillers and witness confidence statements.
Recording of Interrogations
State statute requires law enforcement to electronically record the entirety of their custodial interrogations of suspects when they occur in law enforcement facilities. The requirement applies to major class A and B felonies and homicides. Any statement that was unrecorded and is presented as evidence shall be accompanied by a jury instruction about the superior reliability of electronic recordings when compared with testimony about what was said and done. Effective: 2010.
Deception in Juvenile Interrogations
State statute provides that a statement made by a person under the age of 18 during a custodial interview in connection with an investigation into a misdemeanor or felony is presumed to be involuntarily made if a police officer intentionally used deceit, trickery or artifice, or any other misleading interrogation technique to elicit the statement. This presumption may be overcome if the state proves by clear and convincing evidence that the statement was voluntary and not made in response to the false information used to elicit the statement. Effective: 2021.
Post Conviction DNA Testing
Post-conviction DNA testing is available for any person convicted of a felony in which DNA evidence could exist. In 2019, the law was amended to: improve the standard of proof for testing to be granted, to allow a court to order a DNA database comparison if testing yields an unknown DNA profile, and to allow a court to order an evidence inventory when a petition for testing is filed, so the person knows what evidence the state still has from the case that could be tested. Effective: 2001; Amended most recently: 2019.
State statute requires the automatic preservation of biological evidence collected in criminal investigations for aggravated murder, murder, rape in the first degree, sodomy in the first degree, unlawful sexual penetration in the first degree, aggravated vehicular homicide, manslaughter in the first degree or manslaughter in the second degree. The evidence must be maintained for sixty years from the date of conviction or until the death of each person convicted of the offense, whichever is earlier; or until each person convicted of the offense has completed the sentence, for certain offenses. When no person has been convicted, evidence must be retained until the statute of limitations has run. Effective: 2011.
Oregon's statute meets the best practices standards outlined by the NIST Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation.
A person who was convicted of one or more felonies and subsequently had the conviction(s) reversed or vacated, or received a gubernatorial pardon, is eligible to receive compensation at a rate of $65,000 per year of wrongful incarceration, plus $25,000 per year of post-release supervision. Additionally, the court may use its discretion in awarding a petitioner access to programs that provide services, including, but not limited to: counseling, housing assistance, eligibility for medical assistance, educational assistance, job training, legal services to regain custody of children, assistance with food and transportation and personal financial literacy assistance. Eligible people must file for compensation within two years of exoneration, and file formal notice of their intent to petition for compensation within 180 days of exoneration. Those who were exonerated prior to the law’s passage in March 2022 must file for compensation within two years after the law’s effective date, and file formal notice within 180 days after the law’s effective date. Effective: 2022.