JURORS TO BE CAUTIONED TO BE WARY OF EYEWITNESS IDENTIFICATION IN FLORIDA CRIMINAL TRIALS

Clearwater criminal lawyers have long been wary of eyewitness misidentification during criminal trials. Often jurors place far too much confidence in eyewitness identifications despite studies which have shown that misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful criminal convictions in the United States.
The Florida Supreme Court yesterday laid out new jury instructions which should help jurors in making proper evaluations of eyewitness testimony. Press Reports note that Florida Criminal juries will be told by the presiding Judge at the end of each case to take the following factors into consideration: 

File:Joseph Ducreux - Le Discret.jpg; eye witness testimony often leads to false convictions in tampa bay florida criminal cases.
Joseph Ducreux, Discretion, 1790

 

…whether witnesses are of the same race or ethnic group as those they are identifying, how familiar they are with people they are identifying and whether they relied solely on their own recollection or have been influenced in some way….

To consider the capacity and opportunity of a witness to observe a suspect including length of time, lighting and distance. Jurors also will be told to consider how much time has gone by since an event before identifications are made and any inconsistencies by witnesses.

Although criminal juries won’t be directly warned about proven failures of eye witness identification nor given methodical guidance, this is a long step in the right direction and should serve as a model for other states.
Clearwater criminal attorneys will not only always be permitted to make arguments at trial against eyewitness testimony, but those arguments will now be supported by the jury instructions in all Florida criminal cases.