Is Eyewitness Testimony Still The Gold Standard?

The answer is “probably” even though mounting scientific evidence would challenge that classification. Truly if science is to be believed, and I think in this case it should be, eyewitness testimony should only be seen as one more thing, a circumstantial thing that can help build a case but not the direct evidence we have grown so accustomed to. A huge amount of research on this issue has amassed in the last 30 years amounting to more that 2,000 contributions during that time to the field. Texas recently passed a law stating that police departments across the state must have a written policy on how they conduct line ups by September 1, 2012. The law provided for a commission to create a sample policy that departments could adopt if those chose to or alter. However. some have criticized the law, while being a step in the right direction, not having any teeth. Evidence from a lineup not in accordance with the written policy of a department can still be used as evidence in a trial. The deadline for policy construction and adoption has come has come and gone and it will be interesting to see what police departments across the state have chosen to do. To that end the Innocence Project of Texas has asked for a copy from every police department and plans to issue them with a report card. For more information check out the IPOT website. I think Texas has come along way but when it comes to science and ways to prevent wrongful convictions there is still and maybe always will be room for improvement.

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