Psychological science on eyewitness identification and the U.S. supreme court: Reconsiderations in light of DNA-exonerations and the science of eyewitness identification

Laura Smalarz, Sarah M. Greathouse, Gary L. Wells, Karen A. Newirth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The U.S. Supreme Court has not reexamined the test for admission of eyewitness identifications that are the product of suggestive procedures in over 35 years (Manson v. Brathwaite, 432 U.S. 98, 1977). Since then, there have been over 218 DNA-based exonerations of individuals who were mistakenly identified, and an extensive and rich scientific literature on eyewitness identification has emerged. This chapter reviews the original Manson ruling, using as an analytic framework the Court’s own justifications for implementing a Manson test for determining the admissibility of suggestively obtained identification evidence. The Court’s 1977 ruling was meant to be a safeguard against wrongful conviction, and we note how the DNA-based exonerations can only be a small fraction of the total cases of wrongful convictions based on mistaken identification. The flaws inherent in Manson, in light of the last 30 years of scientific research on eyewitness identification, are reviewed, and it is argued that Manson fails to provide an adequate safeguard against wrongful conviction based on mistaken identification. The two objectives of the Manson ruling, namely suppressing unreliable identifications and providing a disincentive for suggestive procedures, cannot be met with the basic approach inherent in Manson and paradoxically may incentivize police to use suggestive procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Witness Stand and Lawrence S. Wrightsman, Jr.
PublisherSpringer New York
Pages17-39
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781493920778
ISBN (Print)9781493920761
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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