September 19, 2011
State v. Larry R. Henderson (A-8-08; 062218)
The current legal standard for assessing eyewitness identification evidence must be revised because it does not offer an adequate measure for reliability; does not sufficiently deter inappropriate police conduct; and overstates the jury’s ability to evaluate identification evidence. Two modifications to the standard are required. First, when defendants can show some evidence of suggestiveness, all relevant system and estimator variables should be explored at pretrial hearings. Second, the court system must develop enhanced jury charges on eyewitness identification for trial judges to use. Defendant is entitled to a new pretrial hearing consistent with this opinion to determine the admissibility of the eyewitness evidence introduced at his trial.