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In New Jersey, Rules Are Changed on Witness IDs

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rusty charly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-24-11 08:57 PM
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In New Jersey, Rules Are Changed on Witness IDs
The New Jersey Supreme Court, acknowledging a troubling lack of reliability in eyewitness identifications, issued sweeping new rules on Wednesday making it easier for defendants to challenge such evidence in criminal cases.

The court said that whenever a defendant presents evidence that a witnesss identification of a suspect was influenced, by the police, for instance, a judge must hold a hearing to consider a broad range of issues. These could include police behavior, but also factors like lighting, the time that had elapsed since the crime or whether the victim felt stress at the time of the identification.

When such disputed evidence is admitted, the court said, the judge must give detailed explanations to jurors, even in the middle of a trial, on influences that could heighten the risk of misidentification. In the past, judges held hearings on such matters, but they were far more limited.

The decision applies only in New Jersey, but is likely to have considerable impact nationally. The states highest court has long been considered a trailblazer in criminal law, and New Jersey has already been a leader in establishing guidelines on how judges should handle such testimony.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/nyregion/in-new-jerse...
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