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Eyewitness Evidence in the Courts

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Eyewitness testimony can be incredibly powerful in court. However, we now know that eyewitness memory is fragile and malleable. This panel, with leading scientists, lawyers, and judges, moderated by Professor Brandon Garrett, will first explore how eyewitness misidentifications can cause wrongful convictions. Second, the panelists will discuss scientific research on ways in which reliability of eyewitness identification might be improved. Third, the panelists will discuss how to address these questions in the courtroom, including through jury instructions. Panelists will include: Judge Theodore McKee, U.S. Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and chair of a task force on jury instructions on eyewitness identification evidence; Karen Newirth, Senior staff attorney of the Innocence Project, litigates eyewitness memory issues nationwide; Tom Albright, Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Co-chaired NAS report on eyewitness memory and law; Benjamin David, District Attorney, 5th District (New Hanover and Pender Counties) NC, and past president of the NC Conference of District Attorneys; Jennifer Thompson, founder of Healing Justice, co-author, Picking Cotton, and national advocate for eyewitness identification reform. Sponsored by the Duke Law CCJPR and WCC. Lunch provided. Approved for 1 hour of CLE credit by the NC Board of CLE. For more information, please contact Sarah Holsapple at