A Model for Fixing Identification Evidence after Perry v. New Hampshire

Mistaken eyewitness identifications are the leading cause of wrongful convictions. In 1977, a time when the problems with eyewitness identifications had been acknowledged but were not yet completely understood, the Supreme Court announced a test designed to exclude unreliable eyewitness evidence. This standard has proven inadequate to protect against mistaken identifications. Despite voluminous scientific studies on the failings of eyewitness identification evidence and the growing number of DNA exonerations, the Supreme Court’s outdated reliability test remains in place today. In 2012, in Perry v. New Hampshire, the Supreme Court commented on its standard for evaluating eyewitness evidence for the first time in thirty-five years and ultimately declined to modify the outdated reliability framework. This Comment analyzes Perry in light of innovations by states to improve eyewitness evidence procedures. While the Perry decision failed to address critical problems with the reliability test, the Court indirectly pointed to ways in which the old standard must be fixed.