SHOCKING REPORT!! The Truth Behind False Accusations, Misidentification and Wrongful Convictions!
(Washington, D.C. – October 2, 2014) Today the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued a SHOCKING REPORT evaluating three decades of scientific research concerning memory and eyewitness identification. Researchers did a comprehensive study of the last 30 years of basic scientific research on eyewitness identification and found that a high percentage of incorrect eyewitness identification resulted in hundreds of wrongful convictions, that were later overturned!
The landmark report detailed specific courses of action needed to improve police identification procedures and how courts should properly handle eyewitness evidence. The Innocence Project, which has been pushing for these kinds of reforms for years, urges states and courts across the U.S. to enact these crucial reforms in order to prevent future wrongful arrests and wrongful convictions.
Professor Barry Scheck, Law Professor at Cardozo Law School (my Alma Mater!) and Director of the Innocence Project, maintains “This report should serve as a powerful incentive for states and courts around the nation to enact reforms that will prevent eyewitness misidentifications. We’ve known for quite some time that eyewitness testimony is simply not as accurate as juries often believe, but we now have a definitive report that has analyzed three decades of science and makes proven recommendations for how law enforcement and the courts can prevent innocent people from being wrongly arrested and convicted.”
According to the Innocence Project, eyewitness misidentifications contributed to 72% of the hundreds of wrongful convictions that were later overturned by DNA evidence. The criminals who actually committed the crimes were eventually identified in 39% of these cases. While the innocent were suffering behind bars in these cases, the actual perpetrators committed an additional 98 additional brutally violent crimes (including rape, murder, and other extremely violent crimes).
Realizing that police procedures for eyewitness identification have a huge effect on the accuracy of a witness’s identifications, the report recommends the following steps as a way to eliminate the likelihood of wrongful convictions:
∙ Blind Administration — have an officer who is not aware of the identity of the suspect, conduct the photo or live line-up. This stops the witness from picking up any cues from the officer conducting the lineup.
∙ Confidence Statements — right after a lineup, have the eyewitness describe his level of confidence in his identification. This practice will give juries a useful tool for judging the how accurate the witness’s identification may be.
∙ Instructions — The witness viewing the lineup should be told that the actual criminal may not be among the other people in the lineup and that the investigation is moving forward regardless if the witness identifies a suspect in the lineup or not.
∙ Videotape the ID procedure — The Police should make a video recording of the identification procedure to maintain a record of the event.
Today’s stunning Report also makes hard-hitting recommendations for our courts:
∙ Conduct pre-trial judicial inquiry — Judges should actively look into the eyewitness evidence being offered into evidence. If there are red flags pointing to unreliable identifications, judges should limit the eyewitness’ testimony or give a jury instructions on how to measure the reliability of a witness’s identification based on the available scientific research.
∙ Make juries aware of prior identifications of the defendant — Since in-court identifications can unduly influence the jury, juries should be given information about any earlier identification, including the confidence the witness expressed at the time of the identification.
∙ Allow expert testimony — expert witnesses who can explain the nuances of memory and identification are critical in helping juries measure eyewitness testimony and should be allowed to testify. The report also encourages jurisdictions to fund defendants who wish to engage qualified experts.
∙ Better jury instructions — Jury instructions should educate jurors how to properly measure the factors affecting eyewitness identifications and should be tailored to the relevant facts in a particular case.
Have YOU been wrongly accused, mistakenly identified, wrongly arrested or wrongly convicted and imprisoned? Have you been erroneously implicated in a crime? Are you about to let your wrongful arrest ruin your life??
Don’t let procrastination, hesitation or fear stop you from fighting back! For your free 30-minute initial case evaluation by phone, call me, your Hollywood Criminal Defense lawyer Richard G. Salzman, today (954) 981-0336, home of South Florida’s Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm.
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Affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University
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