Reforming Eyewitness Identification Law and Practices to Protect the Innocent

57 Pages Posted: 7 May 2009

Date Written: May 6, 2009


This article discusses varying eyewitness identification reform proposals that may help to finally achieve a greater level of reliability in this critical phase of the criminal justice process. The author concludes a comprehensive reform that includes tightening exclusionary rules, along with (minimally) corroboration requirements for death-sentencing, and more appropriately, for convictions in capital and non-capital cases, with a concomitant loosening of standards for relief on appeal, hold the most promise.

The article addresses adopting best practices; assuring compliance by means of exclusion; admitting expert testimony and educating juries; instructing on the vagaries of eyewitness identification; requiring corroboration with independent and reliable evidence; and redressing unsafe verdicts. A 2002 article advocated a return to the Stovall v. Denno two-stage exclusionary rule, at least in capital cases, and beyond that, proposed a bar on execution if a suggestive identification procedure occurred. This article returns to that view, and addresses additional proposals, including those that would modify the analysis required for exclusion consistent with social science findings; require corroboration in eyewitness identification and general cases; require reliable forensic or other evidence for capital sentencing; and repeal the death penalty to assure against irrevocable errors.

Suggested Citation

Koosed, Margery Malkin, Reforming Eyewitness Identification Law and Practices to Protect the Innocent (May 6, 2009). Creighton Law Review, 2009, U of Akron Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-02, Available at SSRN:

Margery Malkin Koosed (Contact Author)

University of Akron - School of Law ( email )

150 University Ave.
Akron, OH 44325-2901
United States

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