Supreme Ct. Should Reexamine Eyewitness Identification–Recommended Reading

Supreme Ct. Should Reexamine Eyewitness Identification–Recommended Reading

Recomended Reading for JudgesRobeProbe strongly recommends this book for all judges:

Below is a brief excerpt written by the authors.

The U.S. Supreme Court has not reexamined the test for admission of eyewitness identifications that are the product of suggestive procedures in over 35 years (Manson v. Brathwaite, 432 U.S. 98, 1977). Since then, there have been over 218 DNA-based exonerations of individuals who were mistakenly identified, and an extensive and rich scientific literature on eyewitness identification has emerged. This chapter reviews the original Manson ruling, using as an analytic framework the Court’s own justifications for implementing a Manson test for determining the admissibility of suggestively obtained identification evidence. The Court’s 1977 ruling was meant to be a safeguard against wrongful conviction, and we note how the DNA-based exonerations can only be a small fraction of the total cases of wrongful convictions based on mistaken identification. The flaws inherent in Manson, in light of the last 30 years of scientific research on eyewitness identification, are reviewed, and it is argued that Manson fails to provide an adequate safeguard against wrongful conviction based on mistaken identification. The two objectives of the Manson ruling, namely suppressing unreliable identifications and providing a disincentive for suggestive procedures, cannot be met with the basic approach inherent in Manson and paradoxically may incentivize police to use suggestive procedures.