Did You Know That Mistaken Witness Identification Is Responsible For 71% Of Wrongfully Convicted Individuals Later Exonerated By Post-Conviction DNA Evidence?

Data from the Innocence Project, based out of New York, show that mistaken witness identifications contributed to 71% of the more than 300 wrongful convictions later overturned by post-conviction DNA evidence. Tainted photographic or live-lineup procedures can dramatically alter the integrity of the identification process, and cause investigators to devote significant resources and energy developing a case to convict an innocent person. Inadvertent cues from the lineup administrator, not eliciting a statement from the witness about his or her level of confidence in the selection, and fillers who do not match the suspect are typical errors in the standard lineup procedures prevalent in today’s investigations.

The Mueller Law Firm has recently filed three lawsuits seeking long-overdue compensation for wrongfully imprisoned individuals under Michigan’s recently-enacted Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act, MCL 600.1751 et seq. (“WICA”). In each case, where post-conviction DNA testing conclusively demonstrated innocence, the victim identified the plaintiff as the attacker in sexual assault cases.

Efforts are underway nationally to reform lineup procedures to adopt science-based research methods, such as the “double-blind” procedure, where neither the witness nor the administrator knows whether a suspect is in the lineup. These procedures have been adopted by several states, including Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina. Such reform is long overdue nationwide.