The Supreme Court will hear the case of Perry v. New Hampshire on November 2, 2011. The issue presented is whether an eyewitness identification should be excluded when the circumstances make the identification unreliable even where the police did not create the circumstances. The Supreme Court last considered eyewitness identification in 1977 in Manson v. Brathwaite where the Court held that eyewitness identification should not be excluded if the circumstances are reliable.
Mistaken identifications lead to wrongful convictions. Of the first 250 DNA exonerations, 190 involved eyewitnesses who were wrong, as documented in “Convicting the Innocent,” a recent book by Brandon L. Garrett, a law professor at the University of Virginia. A number of groups have written amicus briefs for the Court to consider in Perry including the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Innocence Project, and the American Psychological Association. All briefing is available on Scotus. Stay tuned.