NEW VOICES: Florida Justice Warns of Fallibility of Eyewitness Testimony

Justice Barbara Pariente of the Florida Supreme Court recently commented on the danger of mistake in eyewitness testimony and the importance of warning juries about the possibility of error. Her comments came in a death penalty case where she said that widely accepted scientific research, “‘convincingly demonstrates the fallibility of eyewitness identification testimony and pinpoints an array of variables that are most likely to lead to a mistaken identification.’” (citation omitted). She also noted that “eyewitness misidentification has played a role in more than seventy-five percent of convictions that were subsequently overturned through DNA testing” in Florida. She recommended that courts allow experts to testify about the fallibility of such testimony.

(D. Kim, “Justice Pariente Beats Drum For Eyewitness Expert Testimony,” News Service of Florida, June 26, 2014; see Peterson v. Florida, SC 12-1442, per curiam, June 26, 2014 (Pariente & Quince, JJ. concurring in denial of relief). See Innocence and New Voices.