Sheree Josephson offers some hope to North Carolinians who have been wrongfully accused of a crime — Josephson recently released a study that indicates eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable. The professor from Weber State University says she became interested in the accuracy of eyewitness testimony after she helped in the defense of a murder suspect in Utah.
Josephson’s study is based on a concept known as “cross-race recognition deficit.” In essence, Josephson proved that when people view a lineup of people from a different race, they often have trouble with recognizing individuals. Josephson showed that this issue was especially prevalent with white individuals trying to identify black suspects, though the problem did happen in both directions.
The upshot of this is that the prosecution does not necessarily have an open and shut case just because there is an eyewitness who places you at the scene of a crime. In fact, here in North Carolina, a recently passed law requires much stricter methods in the use of police lineups. The North Carolina Eyewitness Reform Act requires that people looking at a lineup be told that:
The suspect may or may not be present in this lineup.
The officer conducting the lineup doesn’t know who the suspect is or is engaging in special procedures to ensure that he or she does not prejudice the results of the lineup.
The eyewitness should not feel pressure to identify anyone at all.
The police will continue to investigate the crime regardless of whether the eyewitness identifies a suspect.
It is very important that the eyewitness help to exonerate innocent people.
Based on this, if you have been arrested and charged with a crime in North Carolina, you have all the more reason to contact a good criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can help you fight to have unreliable eyewitness testimony thrown out of court.
Posted in Criminal Defense