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Eyewitness Identification Problems in Criminal Cases

lineup-150x150Are eyewitnesses always accurate in identifying alleged criminals? Recent studies have shown that in more than 75,000 eyewitness identifications, approximately 33% of the identifications were incorrect. Mistaken identifications have put thousands of Americans behind bars. There have been approximately 250 DNA exonerations in recent years. 200 of these convictions resulted from bad eyewitness identifications.

Eyewitnesses, who make statements similar to “the face of that criminal is something I will never forget”, are often wrong. Memories are fragile. Identification by witnesses of strangers is a very inexact science. The reliability of witness identifications are subject to questioning. Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. wrote in a 1991 dissenting opinion regarding a study that convincingly showed “a live human being who takes the stand, points a finger at the defendant and says, that’s the one!” has a major impact on the juries. A study by the American Psychological Association produced research that showed juries tend to give greater weight to eyewitness testimony than other types of evidence.

Supreme Court Reviewing the Issue of Eyewitness Testimony

The United States Supreme Court has recently taken a case involving issues concerning eyewitness testimony. Barry C. Scheck, who is the Director of the Innocence Project at Benjamin N. Cardoza’s School of Law located in New York, New York, stated the courts need a new “legal architecture” which judges can use in authenticated gatekeeping roles. He referred to a study submitted in a New Jersey court by a special master Jeffrey Gaulkin, which showed eyewitness identification should be treated “as a form of trace evidence: a fragment collected at the scene of the crime, like a fingerprint or blood smear, whose integrity and liability need to be monitored and assessed from the point of its recovery to its ultimate presentation at trial. This suggests judges should instruct juries about the limitations involved with eyewitness testimony. Hopefully the Supreme Court will set up a new set of guidelines dealing with the one in three mistakes made by eyewitnesses. Innocent men and women should not be convicted by victims and other witnesses who believe their eyewitness testimony is accurate, when in reality it is wrong in a third of all cases.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with a crime or are under investigation for committing a crime, the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo can help you. We represent individuals charged with a variety of offenses including, but not limited to, white collar crimes, violent crimes, sex crimes, weapons possession, drunk driving (DWI), shoplifting, burglary, juvenile defenses, assault and battery, domestic violence, drug offensesand all types of felonies and misdemeanors. Call us should you have criminal problems. We can help you!

DNA: A Case Solving Tool Or Brave New World

dnaThere are presently more than a dozen pieces of legislation pending in the New York State Legislature to expand the use of DNA material. Recently a DNA data bank was utilized by Westchester County legal authorities to match the DNA of Francisco Acevedo for the murders of three woman in Yonkers from 2009.

Francisco Acevedo was arrested while driving intoxicated on January 26, 2009 in Brentwood Long Island. As part of that arrest Mr. Acevedo’s DNA was taken from him last year while he was serving a prison sentence in upstate New York. This was a result of multiple felonies convictions for driving while intoxicated convictions.

His DNA was compared to a data bank maintained by the State of New York which was established in 2004. The data bank linked him to three murder victims. Mr. Acevedo now faces multiple charges of first and second degree murder. Presently state law requires DNA to be collected from individuals convicted of felonies and a variety misdemeanors. The state of New York currently obtains DNA material from approximately 46% of all individuals convicted of crimes.

State Senator Dean Skelos, from Rockville Centre New York , wants the law modified so that DNA samples are taken from every single person arrested or under suspicion for committing a felony or misdemeanor.

State Senator Skelos claims that the Acevedo case is a good example of the types of crimes that would be solved if the states DNA data bases were expanded. Senator Skelos further stated that the expanded data base could solve crimes going back as long as 30 years. Senator Skelos was asked if he had privacy concerns regarding the expanding of the data base. His response was his job was to protect the public.

Expanding DNA data bases may be helpful in solving some crime however the over expansion of DNA collection makes me think of Aidous Hudley’s book “A Brave New World”. Americans are entitled to rights of privacy. A reasonable accommodation should be made for DNA collection but not at the expense of basic rights for American citizens.

If you are under suspicion or charged with a crime, contact the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo. We have been helping our clients with criminal matters for more than 30 years. Contact us at 1-800-344-6431 or by e-mail.

Picture courtesy of criminals.com.

Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton Revisited

the-death-of-american-virtue-clinton-starr-kenKen Gormluy, a Duquesne University law professor, has written a thoroughly researched 769 page book that includes interviews with Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton.

Monica Lewinsky states in the book that formerly United States President Bill Clinton committed perjury before the White Water Grand Jury when he testified about their sexual relationship. Christmas testimony for the White Water Grand Jury has created credibility issues for the x-President. He specifically said in his testimony “it depends on what the meaning of is is”. This is in reference to whether the oral sex performed by Monica Lewinsky on Bill Clinton was a sexual act.

In this new book, Monica Lewinsky claims that Bill Clinton lied under oath. She claims that President Clinton testified falsely when he appeared before the Grand Jury regarding their liaison.

There are two schools of thought with regard to the White Water investigation. One school of thought is that independent prosecutor, Kenneth W. Star, was an overly zealous prosecutor seeking to embarrass a President regarding personal material that was none of the public’s business.

The other school of thought was that President Clinton had an obligation to conduct himself in an appropriate manner while he was in the highest office in the country.

The books also asserts that Bill Clinton had a relationship with Susan McDougel, the one-time wife of James McDougel. James McDougel’s failed Savings and Loan Association prompted the original star investigation. It should be noted that Susan McDougel spent more than eighteen months in prison rather than answer questions from prosecutors. She was pardoned by Bill Clinton when he left the Presidential office. Susan McDougel refused to be interviewed by Ken Gromely.

During Star’s investigation, a memo had been circulated with regard to the outline of an indictment of Hilary Radum Clinton. This is regarding Ms. Clinton’s hiding the Clinton’s involvement in Jim McDougel’s, bankrupt thrift institution, Madison Guarantee Savings & Loan. However, there was a three hour presentation regarding inditing Hilary Clinton, there was a unanimous vote not to move forward with this matter. Individuals who are under investigation by either Federal or State Prosecutors should contact experienced attorneys to represent them as early as possible during these investigations. The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have handled discrete investigations by prosecutors. Feel free to call 1-800 344-6431 or e-mail us for a free consultation .

Valley Stream, Lynbrook, Baldwin, Malverne, Freeport, Oceanside, Long Beach, Elmont, Lakeview, West Hempstead, Hempstead, Merrick, Bellmore

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