American Judges Association


Date of this Version

May 2003


Published in Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association, 40:1 (2003), pp. 6-16. Copyright © 2003 National Center for State Courts. Used by permission. Online at


Forensic DNA testing suggests that potentially large numbers of innocent persons are being convicted of crimes. Case studies conducted both prior to and following the advent of DNA testing indicate that eyewitness error is at least partially responsible for the majority of wrongful convictions. Empirical research has shown which factors contribute to eyewitness error and has identified procedural changes that could be made in the criminal justice system to significantly reduce the number of erroneous eyewitness identifications.

We report the results of a brief survey of what U.S. judges know and believe about eyewitness testimony. The present survey highlights what judges already know about these eyewitness factors and procedural changes and indicates what additional knowledge judges may need to significantly reduce the number of wrongful convictions.

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