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The Champion

December 2011 , Page 32 

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A Survey of Law Officers And Its Significance for Cross-Examining Witnesses About Eyewitness Accuracy

By Richard Wise, Martin A. Safer, and Barry Cushman

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of any agency or organization with which they are affiliated. 

Although no one knows how many wrongful felony convictions occur each year, it is clear that wrongful convictions for serious crimes occur on a regular basis in the United States.1 For example, DNA evidence has exonerated 280 convicted felons, most of whom were convicted of either rape or murder.2 In addition, over 200 convicted felons were exonerated by other means in the last 30 years in the United States, including more than 100 individuals who were on death row.3 Because DNA testing is possible in only a small number of criminal cases and because post-conviction exonerations are rarely granted, it is highly probable that the exoneration cases represent only a small percentage of the thousands of defendants who are wrongfully convicted of felonies each year.4 Eyewitness error occurs in half or more of all wr

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