Eyewitness Identification, Democratic Deliberation, and the Politics of Science

56 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2006

See all articles by Andrew E. Taslitz

Andrew E. Taslitz

American University - Washington College of Law


This article addresses how democratic deliberative institutions can be designed to improve the quality of, sustain, and continually update systemic reforms designed to reduce the risk of convincing the innocent. The article's primary example is the ABA's approach to improving eyewitness identification procedures, an approach that requires the creation of internal deliberative mechanisms on this subject within police and prosecutors' offices and external deliberative mechanisms designed to expand the conversation to include a wide array of criminal justice stakeholders. The ABA also recommends comparative field experiments for controversial reforms, improved jury trial procedures, and other techniques for encouraging deliberative processes concerning innocence among a wide variety of criminal justice system actors. The article begins by exploring the theory of democratic deliberation, next turning to practical ways that internal mechanisms can implement the theory, then analyzing the necessity for supplementary external systems to do so. The article draws on a wide variety of political science and cognitive psychology research to come up with a practical program for change, emphasizing, as few other articles do, the importance of how we change things and not only what we change if innocence reforms are to lead to fundamental improvements in our justice system.

Keywords: eyewitness, democratic, deliberation, reform, innocence, politics, institutions, prosecutors, police, lineups, photospreads, criminal justice commissions, criminal justice coordinating councils

Suggested Citation

Taslitz, Andrew E., Eyewitness Identification, Democratic Deliberation, and the Politics of Science. Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal, Vol. 4, p. 271, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=920491

Andrew E. Taslitz (Contact Author)

American University - Washington College of Law ( email )

4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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