months, years, and decades. I am personally familiar with four (4) cases in Mississippi where men were wrongfully convicted. One spent 18 years in prison. One spent about 20, another about 18, and the last spent about 22 years in prison. One man was on death row waiting to be executed. If you have any sense of justice as a citizen you should be outraged. There have been about 242 people exonerated in the past two decades through DNA evidence. Of that amount about 75% involved eye witness testimony that was wrong but accepted as true by the jury. I have previously written on this Blog on eye witness testimony.
Finally something positive is being done to stop these mistakes. Five states and many large cities have instituted new lineup and photographic lineup procedures. According to experts in the area of social science and law enforcement, these new procedures are going to result in a “huge change in investigative procedures.” The City of Dallas,TX, faced a similar problem when it emerged with the single largest number of wrongful convictions. It is not popular to say, but social science research has confirmed that race can play a major role in wrongful convictions. Pressure from law enforcement officers can also heavily influence a witness’ incorrect identification.
These new eye witness identification procedures are a welcome relief. My office has participated in two recent cases involving faulty eye witness identification. Both men had been in prison for two decades and are now free based on our work. There are many other area that need work in addition to eye witness identification techniques. Juries need to be routinely instructed on the problems that can effect a witness identification. In the past the more certain an eye witness is that he or she is right, the more credence the Court gives the testimony, but you can be absolutely certain you and right and be absolutely wrong. This is why we need safe, sure, fair procedures for eye witness identification. It has been a long time coming.
Coxwell & Associates is a Mississippi law firm with an office in the beautiful downtown Jackson Clifton-Burwell House. The law firm handles criminal cases of every type, in all State and Federal Courts, including appeals. The attorneys at Coxwell & Associates are experienced, smart, and persistent. In addition, the firm handles serious accident cases, such as 18 wheeler big rig collision cases, plane, boat, motorcycle accidents and injury cases. Call for a free initial consultation at 601.948.1600 or e mail using this website.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.