According to the Innocence Project, approximately 69% of the more than 375 DNA-based exonerations nationwide involved mistaken eyewitness identifications. However, there are ways to prevent this, including reforms to police department procedures.
Litigation State Reform
Additional Resources on Eyewitness ID
NACDL supports changes in eyewitness procedures that are proven to increase the reliability of eyewitness testimony without impeding police investigations. Among the most important reforms is the adoption “double blind” sequential lineup procedures, in which suspects are shown one by one to the witness. This reduces the possibility of the witness picking the person who looks most like the culprit. This also means that the procedure is conducted by a police officer who does not know the identity of the suspect, which thus prevents the officer from unconsciously or consciously providing cues to the witness.
NACDL v. Evanston (Flawed IL Pilot Study and Mecklenburg Report)
New Jersey v. Henderson (Eyewitness ID Admissibility and Jury Instruction) and Perry v. New Hampshire
Eyewitness ID State Reform
In 2021, the Colorado legislature passed HB21-1142, which limits the use of showups by law enforcement and requires law enforcement agencies to collect certain data each time the technique is used.
Consider joining NACDL’s State Criminal Justice Network (SCJN) to exchange information, share resources, and develop strategies for promoting policies related to eyewitness identification and other pressing issues.
State Criminal Justice Network
Cross-Examination Trial Pack
NACDL’s new Cross-Examination Trial Pack includes three of our best-selling Cross-Examination resources: “Damage Control: Situational Cross-Examination Techniques Trial Guide”, "Ultimate Cross 2.0: Audio Recordings & Written Materials" and "Sample Cross-Examination Questions."
This masterful collection of cross-examination resources provide countless tips, techniques and strategies for a variety of criminal case-specific scenarios. Learn to cross-examine a variety of trial witnesses!
Death Investigation: Forensic Pathology in the Courtroom and Cause & Manner of Death (2022)
This unique program provides criminal defense lawyers with an accurate and clear overview of forensic pathology and the countless factors to consider in a death investigation and will methodically explain what happens during an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death.
You'll uncover the different types of medicolegal death investigations, what to request from your MDI expert, quality benchmarks for accreditation and certification, guidelines and standards, common terminology and frequently asked questions.
The Psychology of Persuasion & Storytelling for Criminal Defense Lawyers
This Trial Resource Guide is a masterful collection of practical tips, techniques and strategies focused solely on using the arts and sciences of persuasion to improve your storytelling skills at trial.
You'll learn how to master the ability to communicate with juries, deliver powerful openings and closings, perform convincing cross-examinations, use effective courtroom choreography and non-verbal communication, identify and develop the optimal theme and theory for your case, and offer compelling arguments during mitigation and sentencing.
Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victims Cases (2022)
Defending charges of sexual assault and child abuse can be daunting — but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
Every year, NACDL identifies the hottest topics and most pressing issues when defending these cases, and brings-in nationally-renowned lawyers and experts to help you prepare for battle. This year’s 13th Annual Defending Sex Cases training program is our best yet; packed with topics and speakers you won’t want to miss!
- "N.J. cops misused mugshots to ID suspect, top court rules,"
- "New Louisiana law on eyewitness identification aims to reduce wrongful convictions,"
- "Eyewitness testimony is often unreliable and police and lawmakers know it,"
Eyewitness ID News Releases
News Release ~ 09/22/2011
A Message from NACDL President Lisa Wayne: Politics Killed Troy Davis Last Night - Washington, DC (Sept. 22, 2011) -- The death penalty is an emotional issue, of course. Strong feelings on both sides are genuine and understandable. What we know is, more than 75 percent of the death row inmates exonerated by DNA testing were convicted on the basis of eyewitness misidentification.
News Release ~ 03/03/2010
Criminal Defense Bar Secures Sweeping Reversal in Illinois Eyewitness Identification Litigation Concerning Flawed Lineups Linked to More than 50 Wrongful Convictions - Washington, DC (March 3, 2010) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has been fighting in the Illinois courts since Feb. 2007 to secure access to data and other materials related to the Chicago Police Department’s controversial, taxpayer-funded report on lineups and eyewitness procedures.
News Release ~ 02/08/2007
National Legal Group Files Lawsuit Challenging Illinois Police Defense of Traditional Lineups - Chicago, IL (February 8, 2007) – Citing wrongful convictions due to mistaken eyewitness identification and the urgent need to reform traditional police eyewitness identification procedures, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), in conjunction with the MacArthur Justice Center of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University School of Law, filed a civil lawsuit today against the Illinois police departments who participated in a controversial study of eyewitnesses...