NJ jurors to be warned about witness ID evidence - My9 New Jersey

NJ jurors to be warned about witness ID evidence

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey jurors are going to be told to take eyewitness identifications of suspects with a grain of salt.

The state's Supreme Court on Thursday unveiled new guidelines for what judges should tell jurors about the possible problems with evidence from police lineups.

The guidelines follow a ruling in August 2011 in which the court found the state's previous standards did not do enough to prevent mistaken identifications, which can lead to wrongful convictions.

The ruling received wide attention because it heightened requirements for what jurors would hear about witness identifications and that they can be affected by the frailty of human memory. A decade earlier, New Jersey became the first state to have any guidelines at all for instructions on the identifications. Other states followed.

The guidelines issued Thursday, which take effect immediately, raise the requirements.

Jurors will be told to consider the witnesses' circumstances at the time of the crime, including the stress they were under, how good a view they had of the suspect and whether they're identifying someone of a race different from their own.

The jurors will also be told to consider whether police conducted a lineup or photo array and whether they may have tipped off a witness as to which defendant to choose.

"The ultimate issue of the trustworthiness of any eyewitness identification is for the jury to decide," Chief Justice Rabner said in a statement. "Only with a fully informed and properly instructed jury can justice be served."

 

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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