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Thread: Eye Witness Identification

  1. #1
    Senior Member OverdueSpy's Avatar
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    Nov 2002

    Eye Witness Identification

    This is a Georgia Supreme Court ruling that basically says that eye-witness identification is not reliable enough to convict and individual of a crime. Now granted, eye-witness testimony is the least reliable of permissible evidence in a courtroom, but to throw it out entirely is just plain stupid. It doesn't matter now if you witnessed a murder, your testimony doesn't count.

    Here's my concern though if eyewitness testimony is not admissable because it is inaccurate, imagine how this will affect law enforcement's ability to identify a criminal with whom a direct line of sight has been lost.

    By a 4-3 vote, the Supreme Court has reversed the Court of Appeals of Georgia in Brodes v. The State, S04G2101. Justice Robert Benham authored the majority opinion; Justices Carley, Thompson and Hines dissented.

    The Court found that appellant “was convicted of two counts of armed robbery in a trial in which the only evidence implicating him was the testimony of the two victims identifying him as the perpetrator,” and that “[t]he victims testified they were ‘absolutely certain’ of their identification of him and were repeatedly called upon by the prosecuting attorney to repeat their certainty in the accuracy of their identification.” His convictions were upheld by the Court of Appeals.

    In reversing the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court has ruled that “[i]n light of the scientifically-documented lack of correlation between a witness’s certainty in his or her identification of someone as the perpetrator of a crime and the accuracy of that identification, and the critical importance of accurate jury instructions as ‘the lamp to guide the jury’s feet in journeying through the testimony in search of a legal verdict,’ we can no longer endorse an instruction authorizing jurors to consider the witness’s certainty in his/her identification as a factor to be used in deciding the reliability of that identification.” [footnote omitted]

    In his dissenting opinion, Justice Carley argues that “[a]lthough today's decision deals only with the ‘level of certainty’ as a factor in eyewitness identification, it sets a very dangerous precedent. It allows expert opinion testimony to determine the permissible scope of the trial court's authority to instruct the jury on the legal principles applicable in a case.” Justices Thompson and Hines joined in the dissent.

    Attorney for Petitioner: Henry A. Hibbert
    Attorneys for Respondent: Paul L. Howard, Jr., D.A.; Alvera A. Wheeler, A.D.A.
    The mentally handicaped are persecuted in this great country, and I say rightfully so! These people are NUTS!!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Well I guess this makes those who observe crimes safer. Nobody needs to knock them off anymore eh?

  3. #3
    Regal Making Handler
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    Jun 2002
    A few years back I witnessed an armed robbery. I didn't see the robbery take place but the getaway car was parked next to a toilet. To use the toilet I had to walk passed the car, the driver was stood outside of the car, I actualy said to him, "nice motor mate" (RS5000 cosworth). He was no more that 4 ft from me. And I got a good luck at him.

    In the insuing chase two policemen were shot as the bad guys made good their escape. That day I could have given a very good description of the driver. The police however didn't interview me for six months!! by which time, as you can imagine, I had not a clue.

    I think it is this mentality of not trusting eye witness's that lead to the police not interviewing me sooner, plus a good measure of incompetence. Two of there own shot, not killed, but badly wounded, and to this day they have not cought the robbers.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    Jun 2003
    I kind of agree with this. One of the foundations to our legal system was to prevent the habbit of false accusations of those in power and those who would get rid of someone they didn't agree with. I am not saying those people are not guilty but to convict a person where the only evidence is testimony is not kosher. Kosher is a non-christian religious word so it's PC to use it.

    For instance if I called a Robert and told him Jinxy stole my pint and drank it without evidence or witness and they hauled Jinxy off to jail for the night would that be proper? At the time it probably would in order to relieve a hostile situation but there is doubt on Jinxy's guilt. Perhaps it was Jinky's pint all along and I was too pissed to realize I had been cut off?

    If the landlord confirmed my suspician that might be another matter. Here the supreme court says this: When instructing Jurors, let them know that the certainty of an identity by the plaintiff or witness is not a scientific or iplausible and they should consider that.
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  5. #5
    AO's Resident Redneck The Texan's Avatar
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    Aug 2003
    I think eye witness accounts should be used to help out in a case but, dont decide the whole case solely on an eye witness account.
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