famous eyewitness misidentification cases

According to the Innocence Project, a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals, 342 people have been exonerated as a result of DNA analysis as of July 31, 2016.The Innocence Project lists six “contributing causes” for wrongful convictions: 1. But in most cases, that confidence is misplaced. On May 3, 1982, in a Norfolk, Va. circuit court, the 29-year-old was convicted of a rape that he did not commit and was sentenced to five life sentences. The criminal justice system puts a lot of faith in eyewitness testimony, but it actually is highly unreliable. " 5 Researchers have found that a staggering 76% of the first 250 convictions overturned due to DNA evidence since 1989 involved eyewitness misidentification. The process of eyewitness identification has been found to be flawed in many ways and can potentially send an innocent person to prison. • Fifty-three percent of the misidentification cases, where race is known, involved crossracial misidentifications; • In 50% of the misidentification cases, eyewitness testimony was the central evidence used against the defendant (without other corroborating evidence like confessions, forensic science or informant testimony). 2 0 obj Mistaken eyewitness identifications are a leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United State ’ s Court System. There are also a significant number of wrongful conviction cases in which multiple eyewitnesses were mistaken and the conviction rested entirely on that evidence. Eyewitness misidentification Want to write? Eyewitness Misidentification This week’s lesson focuses on the criminal justice system and the many applications applied social psychology theory has influenced in this field. In July 1995, the governor of North Carolina officially pardoned Cotton. United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218, 228 (1967) [defendant entitled to counsel at post-indictment lineup as a “critical stage” of judicial process] (“The vagaries of eyewitness identification are well known; the annals of criminal law are rife with instances of mistaken identification. Jack Daniel McCullough was freed in 2016; decision left door open to new prosecution. Mistaken Eyewitness Identification Did you know that over 75% of cases overturned through DNA testing involved eyewitness error? Eyewitness misidentification played a role in approximately 72 percent of these cases, making it the most common contributor to wrongful convictions. %��������� Ronald Cotton was robbed of more than a decade of his life due to one of the most pervasive and intractable problems in the criminal justice system: eyewitness misidentification. Eyewitness testimony and identification can be very influential when presented in court during an Oregon criminal case. The top 5 reasons for eyewitness misidentification are: limitations in human memory – it is impossible for the human mind to take in and remember everything that a person sees. In a famous case, eyewitness misidentification led to the wrongful conviction of Ronald Cotton in North Carolina, who was No. They are now good friends and travel around the country working to spread the word about wrongful convictions and reforms – especially for eyewitness identification procedures – that can prevent future injustice. Of the 43 DNA exonerations in Texas, the most of any state, more than 80 percent were due to mistaken eyewitness identification, as were all nine of … In eyewitness identification, in criminal law, evidence is received from a witness "who has actually seen an event and can so testify in court".. The samples from one victim were tested and showed no match to Cotton. Thompson-Cannino and Cotton met for the first time after his exoneration. An eyewitness’ false identification of an innocent suspect as the perpetrator of a crime, or “eyewitness misidentification,” is the single greatest cause of wrongful conviction in the U.S. One factor in his wrongful conviction was eyewitness misidentification. The evidence at trial included a flashlight found in Cotton’s home that resembled one used by the assailant and rubber from Cotton’s shoe that was consistent with rubber found at one of the crime scenes, but overwhelmingly the evidence rested on the identification and the flawed eyewitness identification procedures used by police at the time. A famous case of mistaken identity in the United Kingdom is the case of Adolf Beck, who served several years in prison as a swindler, was released upon completion of his sentence, and then arrested again on the same charges before the actual swindler of similar appearance was apprehended. Misidentification is the number one cause of wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA evidence. Not so that of 14-year-old Mohammed Al-Gharani, nabbed in Pakistan. False confessions or admissions 3. And research shows that once you introduce a gun, a perpetrator of a different race, bad lighting, and police interference, the risk of misidentifying someone rises considerably. In 1985, an Italian-American man was wrongfully convicted of a burglary and rape, which resulted in a sentence of 20 to 50 years in prison. The criminal justice system puts a lot of faith in eyewitness testimony, but it actually is highly unreliable. And research shows that once you introduce a gun, a perpetrator of a different race, bad lighting, and police interference, the risk of misidentifying someone rises considerably. Whether due to perjury or eyewitness/victim error, innocent people are spending time behind bars for crimes they did not commit. Cotton was unsuccessful overturning his conviction in several appeals. Ronald Cotton Time Served: 10 years Ronald Cotton was exonerated in 1995, after spending over 10 years in prison for crimes he did not commit. Kirk Bloodsworth. Ronald Chapman can help ensure there are no wrong convictions because of misidentification. xڵ]Yw�V�~ǯ�c���ݗ~s���q��ќ~�DA&bP@Ҋ��T���� D19�cn�U���G�K�G�bn��Qʘ���`�H:o���y������g�\v�f���V�_����3xRV���Y����.n~���F��n���?������|������?���]����������,��'�/�r%��1���E���s�������:x���]����}W���&�}W����n�ˢ��U�+�����=�f��s�Z_�:o���e���-��^���ο���%;|��^��j]��U~W��ղ�_�n��?꺙��_a���u�cY������W Mr. by Jeff Chinn | Jul 8, 2013. (Innocence Project 1999) In 1907 or 1908, Hugo Munsterberg published “On the Witness Stand”; he questioned the reliability of eyewitness identification. The Innocence Project states that "Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in more than 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing." Eyewitness misidentification 2. In that case, the eyewitness testimony likely cost human lives: Police had in fact noted the Chevrolet at several of the crime scenes but did not stop or check out the car because the police and public were focused on the non-existent white van reported by eyewitnesses. Still, in most states and the federal system, there are no standardized, evidence-based guidelines for introducing and evaluating eyewitness evidence once a case … At the defense’s request, the results were sent to the State Bureau of Investigation’s DNA database and the database showed a match with the convict who had earlier confessed to the crime to a fellow inmate in prison. Consider the case of Ronald Cotton. Government misconduct 4. When the DNA test results were reported in May 1995, the district attorney and the defense motioned to dismiss all charges. 10. As those exonerated New York citizens enjoy their freedom, many people struggle to comprehend how the legal system could send innocent people to prison. The five victims of a kid-napping, rape, and robbery episode, all of whom spent several hours with the perpetrator, each identified a man who subsequently was proved to have been several hundred miles away at the time of the of-fense. The textbook discussed the case of Jennifer Thompson, who was sexually assaulted, and then falsely identified Ronald Cotton of this crime. Brian McNeill. Press "Enter" or click on the arrow to show results. The Innocence Project states that "Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in more than 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing." On June 25, the California Innocence Project announced the exoneration of San Diego resident Uriah Courtney. There are 82 DNA exoneration cases in which one eyewitness identification was the only evidence presented, including the cases of Marvin Anderson, Rickie Johnson and Clifford Jones. There have been 260 exonerations across the country based on forensic DNA testing with 3 out of 4 involving cases of eyewitness misidentification. Eyewitness Misidentification. Help us advocate for the innocent by sharing cases from the Innocence Project. Conviction: Rape (2 cts. Ronald Chapman can help ensure there are no wrong convictions because of misidentification. As has been explained, eyewitness accounts can be very unreliable, but this is often made worse in court by the fact that eyewitness accounts are also the most readily believed evidence by a jury. A recent case is a good example. Studies conducted over the last five years have shown … %PDF-1.3 Man falsely convicted of 1957 murder of 7-year-old girl seeks declaration of innocence. Courtney spent 8 years in prison for a sex crime he did not commit before proving his innocence through DNA testing. ... faces of suspects one by one reduces misidentification. Whether due to perjury or eyewitness/victim error, innocent people are spending time behind bars for crimes they did not commit. Certain details like a person’s appearance, hair and eye color, weight, and height typically get overlooked. One factor in his wrongful conviction was eyewitness misidentification. Certain details like a person’s appearance, hair and eye color, weight, and height typically get overlooked. March 25, 2008— -- Julius Earl Ruffin knows all too well how inaccurate eyewitness identification can be. increasing attention to the problems in the cases of wrongfully convicted individuals, has brought the fal- libility of eyewitness memory to the fore. But at least the CIA’s mistakes were understandable in many cases. The empirical evidence demonstrates that eyewitness misidentification is " 'the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions in this country.' The Cotton case fits a larger and troubling pattern among all the DNA cases I studied. I feel that unless there is other evidence to back up these reports it should be emphasised to juries how unreliable eyewitness statements can be so injustices are less likely to occur. Case; and Motion to Hire Eyewitness ID Expert, 2003 Cross Racial ID Case; all in the Race Materials Bank at . Isn’t eyewitness identification important in a murder conviction?” The answer is yes, eyewitness testimony is important, but it is dangerous to rely on as a sole source of evidence. Rattner carefully examined over two hundred cases and found that 52.3 percent resulted from eyewitness misidentification. First, when an eyewitness has initially misidentified a perpetrator of a crime, law enforcement officials become distracted, and lose precious time in pursuing the wrong person, rather than the true perpetrator. Cotton had served 10.5 years in prison. © 2020 Innocence Project. At the trial, the victim was 100 percent certain. Through her terror, Thompson tried … A recent case is a good example. There have been 260 exonerations across the country based on forensic DNA testing with 3 out of 4 involving cases of eyewitness misidentification. Story highlights. Despite the scientific consensus that eyewitness testimony is unreliable and the Supreme Court’s recognition that “the annals of criminal law are rife with instances of mistaken identification,” eyewitness identification testimony remains among the most convincing evidence presented to jurors (Manson v. But in the spring of 1995, his case was given a major break: the Burlington Police Department turned over all evidence, which included the assailant’s semen for DNA testing, to the defense. What are the top 5 causes of eyewitness misidentification? stream Write an article and join a growing community of more than 118,600 academics and researchers from 3,811 institutions. Rattner carefully examined over two hundred cases and found that 52.3 percent resulted from eyewitness misidentification. www.ncids.org (select “Training & Resources”). Eyewitnesses statements often play a vital role in securing criminal convictions – police surveys show that eyewitness testimony is the main form of evidence in more than 20% of cases… dramatic case of cross-racial misidentification. A purported eyewitness, who in fact (Innocence Project 1999) In 1907 or 1908, Hugo Munsterberg published “On the Witness Stand”; he questioned the reliability of eyewitness identification. Of Virginia's 16 DNA exonerations, 13 involved eyewitness misidentification. But study after study shows that it is very easy to misinterpret what one observes, and even easier to fill in missing information with false memories. First, when an eyewitness has initially misidentified a perpetrator of a crime, law enforcement officials become distracted, and lose precious time in pursuing the wrong person, rather than the true perpetrator. Yvonne Cook examines the methods being used to improve the accuracy of eyewitness evidence ... role in more than 75 per cent of its cases. ), Burglary (2 cts. Last year saw a record number of exonerations, three-quarters of which centered on people who had been falsely convicted on the basis of a misidentification. August 26, 2013 . In 1984, someone broke into the apartment of a college student named Jennifer Thompson and raped her. As the crime took place, Thompson carefully studied the appearance of her assailant and later identified him as Ronald Cotton -- who spent over 10 years of a life sentence in prison before DNA … Before the original trial an eyewitness was shown a picture of Burton and informed by the interrogator that it was the murderer. • In 50% of the misidentification cases, eyewitness testimony was the central evidence used against the defendant (without other corroborating evidence like confessions, forensic science or informant testimony). Soon after his release, Cotton got a job in the warehouse of LabCorp, the company that tested the DNA evidence that proved his innocence. These cases detail the approach appropriately used to determine whether due process requires suppression of an … Ronald Cotton What are the top 5 causes of eyewitness misidentification? One of the most dramatic cases of eyewitness misidentification occurred in North Carolina. Misidentification is the number one cause of wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA evidence. His conviction was based primarily on eyewitness misidentification, as the victim and her husband both chose the innocent man’s picture out of a photo lineup. Oregon criminal cases may involve eyewitness misidentification. The Problem . In 1980 Malcolm Alexander was arrested and convicted for a rape he did not commit. Mistaken eyewitness identifications are a leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United State ’ s Court System. "This was a prosecution that stood or fell by eyewitness identification alone," said Lord Gill, the lord justice-clerk at Mills's appeal. 5 in the photo above. Of the 43 DNA exonerations in Texas, the most of any state, more than 80 percent were due to mistaken eyewitness identification, as were all nine … In 1984, a nine-year-old girl was found dead in a wooded area in Rosedale, Maryland, having been sexually assaulted, strangled, and beaten with a rock. The answer is yes, eyewitness testimony is important, but it is dangerous to rely on as a sole source of evidence. Eyewitness Misidentification: A Comparative Analysis Between the United States and England Christina Begakis Follow this and additional works at:https://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/scujil Part of theInternational Law Commons This Article is brought to you for free and open access by the Journals at Santa Clara Law Digital Commons. He was sentenced to life in prison plus fifty-four years. In 1984 a young woman named Jennifer Thompson was raped by a man who broke into her home in the middle of the night. 5 in the photo above. United States, 390 U. S. 377; Foster v. California, 394 U. S. 440; Neil v. Biggers, 409 U. S. 188; and Manson v. Brathwaite, 432 U. S. 98. In a second trial, in November 1987, Cotton was convicted of both rapes and two counts of burglary. Studies conducted over the last five years have shown … Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from the Innocence Project: In July 1984, an assailant broke into Jennifer Thompson-Cannino’s apartment and sexually assaulted her; later that night, the assailant broke into another apartment and sexually assaulted a second woman. Last year saw a record number of exonerations, three-quarters of which centered on people who had been falsely convicted on the basis of a misidentification. In one famous case, 22-year-old college student Jennifer Thompson was raped at knifepoint by an intruder in her bedroom. Mistaken Eyewitness Identification Did you know that over 75% of cases overturned through DNA testing involved eyewitness error? Unvalidated or improper fo… Summaries of 46 Cases in Which Mistaken or Perjured Eyewitness Testimony Put Innocent Persons on Death Row Adams, Randall Dale (convicted 1977, exonerated 1989) — Mr. Adams was sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer in Dallas County, Texas. "In this case, it was a girl." "Usually, in cases of sexual abuse, the father is the accused," she says. Of the more than 200 people … 6 Study after study demonstrates that eyewitness recollections are highly … The rape, which took place in 1979, was linked to Malcolm Alexander solely by eyewitness identification. Of Virginia's 16 DNA exonerations, 13 involved eyewitness misidentification. Inadequate defense 5. His convictions were based largely on flawed eyewitness identification procedures used by police at the time. Of the 321 exoneration cases, 29 occurred in New York. Juries here in Wisconsin and around the country are often convinced by testimonial accounts from eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses statements often play a vital role in securing criminal convictions – police surveys show that eyewitness testimony is the main form of evidence in more than 20% of cases… BEHAV. All Rights Reserved. In a famous case, eyewitness misidentification led to the wrongful conviction of Ronald Cotton in North Carolina, who was No. Eyewitness misidentification can potentially lead to wrongful convictions in a number of ways. found mistaken eyewitness identification to be implicated in 56 of these); Arye Rattner, Convicted but Innocent: Wrongful Conviction and the Criminal Justice System, 12 L. & HUM. 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