Malpass, who was called by the State, is also widely published. He holds a Ph. The parties and amici also presented the testimony of three law professors: James Doyle, Jules Epstein, and Dr.
John Monahan. The professors discussed the intersection of eyewitness identification research and the legal system. Monahan and Professor Doyle were called as witnesses by the Innocence Project. Monahan has a Ph. He coauthored the casebook Social Science in Law 7th ed. In , he co-authored a treatise titled Eyewitness Testimony: Civil and Criminal, which he regularly updates.
Defendant presented Professor Epstein as a witness. He is an Associate Professor of Law at Widener University School of Law, who has spent more than a decade representing criminal defendants in Philadelphia. He, too, has written extensively on eyewitness identification. The State also called James Gannon to testify. During his career, he investigated approximately homicides. He continues to train law enforcement personnel locally and internationally. Gannon testified about practical constraints police officers sometimes face in conducting investigations.
In this case, the parties heavily dispute the admissibility and reliability of Womble's eyewitness identification of defendant. We therefore begin with some important, general observations about eyewitness identification evidence, which are derived mostly from the remand hearing as well as prior case law.
Delgado, N. Erroneous identifications create more injustice and cause more suffering to innocent persons than perhaps any other aspect of police work.
Substantial evidence in the record supports those statements. In half of the cases, eyewitness testimony was not corroborated by confessions, forensic science, or informants. Thirty-six percent of the defendants convicted were misidentified by more than one eyewitness. Garrett, supra, at New Jersey is not immune. The parties noted that misidentifications factored into three of the five reported DNA exonerations in our State.
In one of those cases, this Court had reversed convictions for rape and robbery because the trial court failed to instruct the jury that people may have greater difficulty in identifying members of a different race. Cromedy, N. After the decision, DNA tests led to Cromedy's exoneration. But DNA exonerations are rare. To determine whether statistics from such cases reflect system-wide flaws, police departments have allowed social scientists to analyze case files and observe and record data from real-world identification procedures.
Four such studies—two from Sacramento, California and two from London, England—produced data from thousands of actual eyewitness identifications. See Bruce W. Thus, about one-third of eyewitnesses who made an identification 20 of 59 in real police investigations wrongly selected an innocent filler.
Victims and Witnesses: Understanding Your Rights and the Federal Court System
The results were comparable for the Valentine study. See Valentine, supra, at Although the studies revealed alarming rates at which witnesses chose innocent fillers out of police lineups, the data cannot identify how many of the suspects actually selected were the real culprits. Researchers have conducted field experiments to try to answer that more elusive question: how often are innocent suspects wrongly identified? Three experiments targeted unassuming convenience store clerks and one focused on bank tellers.
See John C. Brigham et al. Applied Soc. Pigott et al. Police Sci. See, e. Two to twenty-four hours later, a different person entered the same store and asked the same clerk to identify the man with the traveler's check; the clerk was told that the suspect might not be among the six photos presented; and no details of the investigation were given. Only after making a choice was the clerk told that he or she had participated in an experiment. Across the four experiments, researchers gathered data from more than identifications. See Brigham et al.
Those numbers, like the results from the Sacramento and London studies, reveal high levels of misidentifications.
Victims and Witnesses: Understanding Your Rights and the Federal Court System
In two of the studies, researchers showed some clerks target-absent arrays—lineups that purposely excluded the perpetrator and contained only fillers. In those experiments, Dr. Those field experiments suggest that when the true perpetrator is not in the lineup, eyewitnesses may nonetheless select an innocent suspect more than one-third of the time. Any one of the above studies, standing alone, reveals a troubling lack of reliability in eyewitness identifications. We accept that eyewitnesses generally act in good faith. Most misidentifications stem from the fact that human memory is malleable; they are not the result of malice.
As discussed below, an array of variables can affect and dilute eyewitness memory. Along with those variables, a concept called relative judgment, which the Special Master and the experts discussed, helps explain how people make identifications and raises concerns about reliability. Under typical lineup conditions, eyewitnesses are asked to identify a suspect from a group of similar-looking people. As a result, if the actual perpetrator is not in a lineup, people may be inclined to choose the best look-alike. Psychologist , Also not surprising is that it enhances the risk of misidentification.
In one relative-judgment experiment, witnesses were shown a staged crime. Half of the witnesses were then shown a lineup that included the perpetrator and five fillers; the other half looked at a lineup with fillers only. All of the witnesses were warned that the culprit might not be in the array and were given the option to choose no one.
Consistent with the concept of relative judgment, witnesses chose other fillers who looked more like the perpetrator to them, instead of making no identification. Relative judgment touches the core of what makes the question of eyewitness identification so challenging. Without persuasive extrinsic evidence, one cannot know for certain which identifications are accurate and which are false-which are the product of reliable memories and which are distorted by one of a number of factors. Brown, F. Justice Marshall, in dissent, expressed a contrary view.
See id. We presume that jurors are able to detect liars from truth tellers. Instead, some mistaken eyewitnesses, at least by the time they testify at trial, exude supreme confidence in their identifications. As discussed below, lab studies have shown that eyewitness confidence can be influenced by factors unrelated to a witness' actual memory of a relevant event.
DNA exoneration cases buttress the lab results. Almost all of the eyewitnesses in those cases testified at trial that they were positive they had identified the right person. Sowders, U.
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The State challenges the above concepts in various ways: it argues that some studies evaluating real police files and investigations are unreliable because it is unclear whether the witnesses were given proper pre-lineup warnings, see, e. That broad-brush approach, however, glosses over the consistency and importance of the comprehensive scientific research that is discussed in the record.
Recent studies-ranging from analyses of actual police lineups, to laboratory experiments, to DNA exonerations—prove that the possibility of mistaken identification is real, and the consequences severe. The current standards for determining the admissibility of eyewitness identification evidence derive from the principles the United States Supreme Court set forth in Manson in New Jersey formally adopted Manson's framework in Madison, supra, N.