nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

On the unreliability of eye-witness evidence
Wells has been studying mistaken identifications for decades, and his objection to the eyewitness-identification system is not that people make mistakes. In an interview, he explains that eyewitness evidence is important, but should be treated—like blood, fingerprints and fiber evidence—as trace evidence, subject to contamination, deterioration and corruption. Our current criminal-justice system allows juries to hear eyewitness-identification evidence shaped by suggestive police procedures.In a 1977 case, Manson v. Braithwaite, the Supreme Court held that such evidence could be used ifdeemed "reliable."Today we know you can have a good long look, be certain you have the right guy and also be wrong. But Manson is still considered good law.

his is not an issue that tracks the usual left-rightdivide. Some of the most zealous reformers of the eyewitness-identification process are lifelong conservatives who recognize that the credibility of the whole justice system is on the line each time an innocent man goes to jail and a guilty one walks free.

The good news is that most of the commenters agreed that there's a serious problem, many of them as a result of having been jurors.

Link thanks to The Agitator.

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