Can Henderson or Lawson Repair the Golden State’s Less-Than-Golden Treatment of Eyewitness Identification Reform? A Call for Judicial Intervention in California – Note by Morgan Schwartz

From Volume 89, Number 3 (March 2016)
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Part I of this Note provides a brief background regarding the history of the Supreme Court’s treatment of eyewitness identification, the current standard of admissibility of eyewitness identification testimony at both the federal and state levels, and the status of scientific research into eyewitness identifications today. Part II describes the changes that two states, New Jersey and Oregon, have made to their judicial frameworks to reflect the current state of empirical research into the dangers of eyewitness misidentification. This Part will also highlight how these new tests differ from the Manson framework set forth by the Supreme Court in the 1970s, which is the prevailing test for admissibility of eyewitness evidence, on which California’s existing framework is modeled. Part III will examine the pros and cons of New Jersey and Oregon’s approaches, especially in light of their underlying goals of deterring improper police conduct and obtaining reliable verdicts. Part IV describes the history of eyewitness identification reform in California and suggests that in states like California, where attempts to pass legislation modifying police eyewitness identification procedures have been unsuccessful, judicial reform similar to that of Oregon’s Lawson framework is necessary to ensure the integrity of the criminal justice system.


 

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