Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Abuse of Discretion to Exclude Testimony on Accuracy of Eyewitness I.D., Says NY High Court

From Newsday and other sources, we learn of a ruling yesterday, by the New York Court of Appeals, under which testimony on the accuracy of eyewitness testimony will generally be admissible if certain criteria are met. From the opinion in People v. LeGrand, No. 39 (N.Y. Mar. 27, 2007):
[W]e hold that where the case turns on the accuracy of eyewitness identifications and there is little or no corroborating evidence connecting the defendant to the crime, it is an abuse of discretion for a trial court to exclude expert testimony on the reliability of eyewitness identifications if that testimony is (1) relevant to the witness's identification of defendant, (2) based on principles that are generally accepted within the relevant scientific community, (3) proffered by a qualified expert and (4) on a topic beyond the ken of the average juror.



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Fed. R. Evid. 702: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.