Friday, April 18, 2014
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Courts and legislatures are slowly shifting away from using eyewitness testimony as the gold standard of evidence. The reason: Studies show it's only right about half the time.
That has led a small group of police chiefs, courts and lawmakers to toughen laws governing the handling of eyewitnesses and their accounts of crimes.
Reform advocates say procedures long regarded as solid police work can fundamentally alter what someone believes they saw. Prosecutors say reform efforts are aimed at undercutting prosecutions.
State supreme courts in Oregon and New Jersey tightened guidelines for eyewitness testimony. Legislatures in seven states and numerous cities have overhauled their treatment. However, Texas allows agencies to tailor the law to fit their needs.