Ellis Legislation to Reform Eyewitness Identification to be Debated Tomorrow
Wrongfully convicted Texans will testify on Tim Cole Advisory Panel Recommendations
(AUSTIN)—The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will hear SB 121, legislation by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) to enact eyewitness identification reforms recommended by the Tim Cole Advisory Panel tomorrow, Tuesday, March 1, 2011, at 1:30 p.m. or upon adjournment, in E1.016.
According to the national Innocence Project, approximately 75% of the 266 DNA exonerations in the United States have been due to eyewitness misidentification. In Texas, 38 of its 44 DNA wrongful convictions (86%) were largely or exclusively due to incorrect eyewitness identifications.
Despite the fact that certain "best practices" have been shown to improve the accuracy and reliability of eyewitness evidence, the Justice Project found in November 2008 that only 12% of police departments in Texas even have written policies or guidelines for conducting lineups.
SB 121 requires all Texas law enforcement agencies in the state to adopt written eyewitness identification policies by September 1, 2012. The Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT) will develop a model policy and associated training materials in conjunction with law enforcement and scientific experts in eyewitness memory research. All law enforcement agencies must adopt a policy that conforms with the LEMIT model policies.
SB 121, Eyewitness Identification Reform
Senator Rodney Ellis
Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 1:30 p.m. or upon adjournment