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28 Am. J. Crim. L. 207 (2000-2001)
They All Look Alike: The Inaccuracy of Cross-Racial Identifications

handle is hein.journals/ajcl28 and id is 215 raw text is: They All Look Alike:
The Inaccuracy of Cross-Racial Identifications
John P. Rutledge*
Table of Contents
I.   Introduction  ......................................................................... 207
II. Why are Cross-Racial Eyewitness IDs Especially Unreliable? .............. 211
III. Traditional Tools: Cross-Examination & Closing Argument ................ 214
IV .  Expert Testim ony  .................................................................. 216
V. Special Jury Instruction ............................................................ 224
V I.  Conclusion  ........................................................................... 227
I.   Introduction
Have sight and hearing truth in them? Are they not, as the
poets are always telling us, inaccurate witnesses?'
Identifications (IDs) by witnesses are among the most important
forms of evidence presented in criminal trials.2             Many cases are based
entirely upon uncorroborated eyewitness IDs,3 and yet, [t]he vagaries of
eyewitness identification are well-known; the annals of criminal law are
rife with instances of mistaken identification. ,4
As Justice Frankfurter noted in 1927: The identification of strangers
is proverbially untrustworthy [and] [t]he hazards of such testimony are
established by a formidable number of instances in the records of English
* Associate, Donahue, Gallagher, Woods &     Wood, L.L.P.; L.L.M., Real Property
Development, University of Miami School of Law; J.D., Howard University School of Law (cum
laude); B.A., Philosophy, Loyola Marymount University. This article is dedicated to all those
falsely imprisoned due to an inaccurate eyewitness identification. Our collective soul is marred by
your injustice. And no subsequent remedy can repay you for the pain you've suffered or the life
you've lost. However, let us begin with an apology and an oath to never again permit such injustice.
1. PORTRAIT OF SOCRATES, BEING THE APOLOGY, CRITO, AND PHAEDO OF PLATO (Sir R.W.
Livingstone ed., Oxford Univ. Press 1938).
2. Jennifer L. Devenport et al., Eyewitness Identiication Evidence: Evaluating Commonsense
Evaluations, 3 PSYCHOL. PUB. POL'Y. & L. 338, 338 (1997).
3. Robert J. Hallisey, Experts on Eyewitness Testimony in Court-A Short Historical
Perspective, 39 How. L. J. 237, 238 (1995); see, e.g., State v. Cromedy, 727 A.2d 457 (N.J. 1999)
(finding defendant guilty of a crime based exclusively upon the victim's ID made eight months after
she was raped and robbed).
4. United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218, 228 (1967).

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