Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Problems with Eyewitness IDs

The Dallas Morning News did a very interesting investigative series on the problems with eyewitness identification and how they were major factors in the wrongful convictions of 18 of the 19 DNA exonerees in Dallas County. It is a MUST read for anyone involved in the criminal justice system. I wish it were a MUST read for everyone about to sit on a jury, but, sadly, that is not to be.

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15 Comments:

Blogger Jeff Deutsch said...

Hello,

You probably know that the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled, just a year and a half ago in State v. Romero, that judges for all NJ jury trials in any case including eyewitness identification need to warn the jurors that even when eyewitnesses are sincere and telling the proverbial truth, whole truth and nonthing but the truth as they recall it, they can be mistaken. The Court went on to require extra cautions to the jurors where the eyewitness identification took place outside the courtroom.

The money quotation is in Point 4: "In light of the social science research noting the fallibility of eyewitness identifications, the Court directs that the model jury charge should underscore, for all jurors in all eyewitness identification cases, that eyewitness identification testimony requires close scrutiny and should not be accepted uncritically. The Court requires that additional language be included in the out-of-court identification charge. The Court refers this model jury charge to the Model Jury Charge Committee and instructs trial courts to utilize this new language while the model charge is being reviewed by the Committee."

Keep fighting the good fight. Many of us who really do depend on you, don't know it - and if they're lucky, they never will. Like soldiers, police and tax collectors, I know you and your colleagues take a good deal of abuse from some of the very people who need you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jeff Deutsch

PS: My word verification was "lasts". Hopefully that describes your attachment to your work!

11/26/2008 2:38 PM  
Anonymous DOUGLAS FIELD said...

ARE THEY KINGS OF SLAVES,OR THE US CONGRESS ??


PRESIDENT OBAMA NEEDS TO TELL THE LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD DEMOCRATIC US CONGRESS ~ LET MY PEOPLE GO !!!

WILL THE INTERNATIONAL WORLD COURT AND THE POPE ALSO COME TO THE RESCUE OF THESE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF ENSLAVED POORER AMERICAN'S ??

***The CATHOLIC CHURCH could really help AMERICA right now by arranging a speech from the VATICAN by the POPE concerning THIS modern day ENSLAVEMENT of POORER AMERICAN'S by our complacent US CONGRESS who appears to be more interested in financing other US Congressional interests then our UNDERFUNDED AMERICAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM.

****THE POPE KNOWS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A STATE MURDER OF TROY DAVIS IN GEORGIA, AND A JUDICIAL EXECUTION OF TROY DAVIS IN GEORGIA ***
MANY INTERNATIONAL CITIZENS HAVE ALREADY STARTED TO BOYCOTT THIS ROGUE STATE OF GEORGIA ***
WILL MILLIONS OF CARING AMERICAN'S AND INTERNATIONAL CITIZENS AVOID GIVING THE STATE OF GEORGIA ANY FUTURE BUSINE$$ IF A 3YR. BOYCOTT TAKES PLACE OVER THIS STATE NOT EVEN OFFERING JUSTICE WITH A NEW LEGITIMATE CRIMINAL TRIAL FOR MR.TROY DAVIS? IT'S BEEN SAID BY MANY THAT A THREE YEAR INTERNATIONAL BOYCOTT OF THIS STATE MIGHT VERY WELL COST IT TENS OF MILLION$ WHERE A NEW AND FAIR TRIAL OF TROY DAVIS MIGHT COST THE STATE ONLY $100,000.

**** A SPECIAL FEDERAL TASK FORCE MADE UP OF INVESTIGATORS AND LAWYERS DESIGNED TO VERIFY EVERY ASPECT OF THE 3,300 VARIOUS DEATH ROW LEGAL CASES NATIONWIDE,IS OUR COUNTRIES ONLY REAL METHOD TO MAKE SURE WE DO NOT ALLOW STATES LIKE GEORGIA TO CONTINUE ATTEMPTING TO MURDER POSSIBLE INNOCENT POORER AMERICAN'S LIKE MR.TROY DAVIS!

*** FOR THOSE MILLIONS OF AMERICAN'S WHO BELIEVE IN GOD, WE ALL HAVE TO WONDER IN TOTAL AMAZEMENT, HOW OUR AMERICAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS HAVE ALLOWED THIS HORROR TO CONTINUE WRONGFULLY EXECUTING AND INCARCERATING INNOCENT AMERICAN'S ALL ACROSS OUR COUNTRY ???

LAWYERS FOR POOR AMERICANS IS DEDICATED TO PREVENTING FURTHER CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY CONTINUING TO BE INFLICTED ON MIDDLE CLASS AND WORKING POOR AMERICANS WHO ARE BEING DENIED PROPER LEGAL REPRESENTATION AND BEING FALSELY IMPRISONED AND EXECUTED ALL ACROSS AMERICA!!
lawyersforpooramericans@yahoo.com (424-247-2013)
******************************************************************************************

THE GREAT LIE
by Gerry Spence

The idea that we should furnish the poor with a public defender has been an effort to save our nation from shame - for sending the poor to prison without adequate representation. But today the nation's public defender system has become a mockery of justice.

To provide an accused with a public defender who has three hundred other cases to defend is simply to laugh in the face of both justice and the accused himself. It takes me months to prepare the average criminal case for trial. The trial itself can take weeks, even months.

While O.J. Simpson was being tried in Los Angeles for murder, a case that cost millions to defend and months to conclude, another black man was being tried in the same courthouse for a similar murder. It took only three days for a jury to find him guilty. He had a public defender with scores of other cases to defend. Many prosecutors boast that they have over a 90 percent conviction rate. Little wonder. Under the present public defender system the prosecutors should enjoy one hundred percent convictions, and many in fact approach perfect conviction rates.

The public defenders in seven states have finally refused to take on any new cases. It's about time. If I walked into court to defend my client and had never talked him, never previously opened his file, never discovered the witnesses against him, much less interviewed them, never reviewed the evidence in the hands of the prosecution, never demanded my clients rights to discovery, never read the cases relevant to the case at hand, never prepared the cross examination of the witnesses against my client, never ... and on and on, I would be guilty of legal malpractice.

Every public defender who purports to represent an accused under circumstances in which he or she has neither the time nor the resources to fully defend the client is guilty of malpractice. These public defenders cannot be saved from malpractice because they are crushed under a ridiculous case load - some with even as many as five hundred cases or more. No one who was accused with such an attorney has received a fair trial and every such accused is entitled to an appeal on that basis alone. The judge must not sentence the accused under these circumstances because the judge would be taking part in a fraud on the system. Yet hundreds of thousands of indigent persons go to prison each year under circumstances no better than those outlined above.

When I was coming up as a young prosecutor, the defendants were represented pro bono by the lawyers in the local bar. It was part of the duty of members of the bar to take part in the justice system. Today that idea is unheard of. The practice of law is first and foremost a money-making profession. I see nothing wrong with that notion, but what about giving back?

Every trial lawyer should be required to take on a couple of pro bono cases every year. At our office we have a separate pro bono law firm and have for over ten years. It often brings us more satisfaction than our big money wins. The job of a lawyer is to represent the people - the lost, the forgotten, the damned, the hated, the voiceless and the poor. Indeed, God forbid, we may one day become one of those who are entitled to representation but cannot afford it.

Every time an accused goes to prison without having received a fair trial we are one step closer to the loss of our own freedoms. Our rights are, in fact, being fought for by public defenders who can never fulfill their duty to their clients because of their pathetic, impossible, caseloads. When they fail, we are in danger. Our system becomes a hypocritical charade. And we prove, once and for all, that the promised justice for all in America is an evil lie that is imposed on the poor.

If only those with money can receive justice, then how can we permit our children to recite a horrible falsehood in school when they chant, "with liberty and justice for all." That can no longer be the truth in America.
******************************************************************************************
GERRY SPENCE IS A RENOWNED LAWYER AND PATRIOTIC AMERICAN WHO EVEN AT THE AGE OF 82, CONTINUES TO SHOW A KEEN INTEREST IN WANTING TO BETTER AMERICA FOR THE MASSES OF POORER AMERICANS BEING CAUGHT IN OUR UNDERFUNDED JUDICIAL SYSTEM.LAWYERS FOR POOR AMERICANS THANKS YOU MR.SPENCE FOR TAKING YOUR TIME AND INTEREST IN SPEAKING THE TRUTH ABOUT A JUDICIAL SYSTEM IN NEED OF C*H*A*N*G*E...

** WE CAN ONLY HOPE AND PRAY OTHER AMERICAN LAWYERS AND JUDGES WILL FOLLOW YOUR LEAD SO THE PROPER FINANCING CAN BE ALLOCATED BY OUR IVORY TOWER US CONGRESS !

*** ANYONE INTERESTED CAN GOOGLE OR YAHOO GERRY SPENCE ON THE WWW FOR MANY OTHER ENLIGHTENING HONEST ARTICLES.

12/07/2008 6:45 PM  
Anonymous Beverly Lanfear co-founder, TAJLR said...

Could my son's case of misidentification prove "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that eyewitness misidentification out of a photo line up are HIGH because of the simple fact "WE ALL HAVE A TWIN OUT THERE" and could it also prove that lie detectors are the biggest piece of junk science ever invented????????? How? How about the fact that the real perpetrator was caught 3 weeks before my sons trial! FACT and I have all those facts. I am willing to go to ends of the earth to help stop this insanity and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind, my son will do the same!

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11/13/2010 2:36 AM  
Blogger IMR2D2 said...

You should try hiring a look-alike actor to take the place of a defendant, and ask eyewitnesses "do you see the guilty party here in this courtroom?"

Then when they're all dismissed, have the real defendant walk in.

I can't believe that anyone could be convicted on eyewitness testimony alone, when it's so easy to mistake two people you've never seen before, and whom you wouldn't know them from Adam otherwise. It takes time to recognize someone uniquely. Even celebrities have look-alikes that fool most people.

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