Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Eyewitness Identification Reform Focus of National Symposium

The National Symposium on Eyewitness Identification Reform was held at Yale Law School on June 27-29, 2016. The symposium brought together police officers, judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and policy makers to focus on the critical problem of eyewitness misidentification. Eyewitness misidentification has been the single greatest contributing cause of wrongful convictions established by DNA evidence across the United States, according to conference organizers.

“The National Symposium on Eyewitness Identification Reform has provided opportunities for leaders in 23 states to learn about and discuss the promising work and range of reforms and approaches being instituted in Connecticut as well as in select jurisdictions throughout the country,” said Justice David Borden, Chair of the Connecticut Eyewitness Identification Task Force and a former Connecticut Supreme Court Justice. “I am very grateful to our sponsors and, of course, the Criminal Justice Clinic for helping to ensure that the first national symposium would take place at the Yale Law School. There was no more perfect venue to hold in-depth discussions on this critical issue.”

Speakers at the symposium addressed the tragic human consequences of wrongful convictions, presented the latest research on the science of misidentification, and discussed the experiences of leading jurisdictions in implementing reforms.

The organizers of the symposium included the Samuel Jacobs Criminal Justice Clinic (CJC) at Yale Law School and The Justice Education Center.

“The symposium demonstrated just how effectively actors from across the criminal justice system can work together to achieve reform,” said Fiona Doherty ’99, Clinical Associate Professor of Law and Director of the CJC. Doherty and students from the CJC defend indigent clients accused of misdemeanor and felony offenses in New Haven and also handle a wide variety of sentencing cases, including federal clemency petitions.

“The goal of our National Symposium was to provide participants with opportunities to discuss the most recent advances in the science of eyewitness identification, trends in the judicial treatment of identification evidence, promising police policies and procedures, models for reform, and emerging issues in the field,” said Sherry Haller, Executive Director of The Justice Education Center. “I am delighted that many participants expressed a strong commitment toward working on reforms in their jurisdictions upon their return home.

The Justice Education Center works to prevent and reduce crime and improve public safety working partnerships amongst the government, university-systems, and the communities they represent.

Video of the Symposium can be found here:

Session 1 
Session 2 

Read more about the conference in the news. 

CT Law Tribune