The Champion

November 2007 , Page 18 

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A Survey of Defense Attorneys Knowledge And Beliefs About Eyewitness Testimony

By Richard A. Wise; David Meyer; Nell B. Pawlenko; Martin A. Safer

Eyewitness error is the leading cause of wrongful felony convictions.1 For example, in the more than 180 DNA exoneration cases, eyewitness error occurred in 75 percent or more of the cases.2 In many of the DNA exoneration cases, there were multiple eyewitnesses and several of the defendants had been sentenced to death. Unfortunately, DNA evidence is only available in a small percentage of criminal cases.

Recently, Wise, Dauphinais, and Safer proposed a comprehensive, practical solution to the problem of eyewitness error which consists of the following components: (1) permitting expert testimony when the primary or sole evidence against the defendant is eyewitness testimony; (2) improving procedures for collecting eyewitness evidence by conducting eyewitness interviews and identification procedures in a manner consistent with best practices identified by scientific research in the field; and (3) educating the principal participants in the criminal justice sys

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