Eyewitness Testimony Again Challenged

A new story by Adam Liptak in the New York Times (behind the TimesSelect wall) entitled, "Story of Wrongful Convictions Raises Questions Beyond DNA" points once again to the weakness of "eyewitness" testimony. As the story notes:

Brandon L. Garrett, a law professor at the University of Virginia, has, for the first time, systematically examined the 200 cases, in which innocent people served an average of 12 years in prison. In each case, of course, the evidence used to convict them was at least flawed and often false — yet juries, trial judges and appellate courts failed to notice.“A few types of unreliable trial evidence predictably supported wrongful convictions,” Professor Garrett concluded in his study, “Judging Innocence,” to be published in The Columbia Law Review in January.

The articles goes on to say that

The leading cause of the wrongful convictions was erroneous identification by eyewitnesses, which occurred 79 percent of the time. In a quarter of the cases, such testimony was the only direct evidence against the defendant.

Once again, naive belief in the accuracy or superiority of so-called "eyewitness" testimony is shown to be dangerous and grossly misplaced.

Target Article: Liptak, A. (2007, July 23). Study of wrongful convictions raises questions beyond DNA. New York Times (Electronic version).