Many individuals, including several Michigan residents, have been wrongfully convicted on the basis of eyewitness identification evidence. This was the case for a 42-year-old New Orleans man who was released on June 27 after serving 17 years for an armed robbery he did not commit. A reexamination of fingerprint evidence led to his release.

The man had been sentenced to 49 years in prison on charges that he robbed a Burger King. One key piece of evidence was that of an employee, who misidentified the man two months after the robbery. New technology allowed a reanalysis of a cup the perpetrator held before the incident and found that the fingerprints did not belong to the man. Later, when the prints were matched against a database, they were found to be those of a 54-year-old man who had been convicted for several similar robberies.

According to the man’s lawyer, the case highlighted the unreliability of eyewitness testimony. The witness later said that she had been more focused on the gun of the man who robbed her than his face. Eyewitness mis-identifications are the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United States. 75% of DNA exonerations have involved mistaken eyewitness identification. 

As these cases demonstrate, a wrongful conviction can have devastating consequences for an individual. An attorney may be able to help a person who has been wrongfully convicted by reviewing evidence and other information related to the case. For example, in some cases, the person’s constitutional rights might have been violated. A search and seizure may have been conducted illegally. There may have been misconduct by law enforcement or the prosecution, or evidence could be contaminated or mishandled. As was the case with the armed robbery, eyewitness testimony could be wrong. In some situations, a witness might even have deliberately lied.

If you or a loved one have been wrongfully imprisoned because of any of the reasons stated above, you should contact an attorney experienced in civil rights litigation.