Thursday, December 13, 2007

Another Georgia Man Exonerated, Will Appear before Eyewitness Reform Committee Two Days after Release

Another Georgia man was exonerated by DNA evidence yesterday, after serving nearly 30 years in a state prison for a rape he did not commit. Like the six other men exonerated in Georgia since the Innocence Project started digging through old cases, John Jerome White was convicted on the basis of mistaken eyewitness testimony.

Tomorrow, two days after his release from his decades-long prison term, Mr. White will appear at the final hearing of the eyewitness ID study committee that was formed by the Georgia House of Representatives to study police procedures behind the statewide problem of wrongful convictions resulting from faulty eyewitness testimony.

Maybe with another wrongful conviction fresh in their minds, and with another face on this systemic problem, the Georgia committee will do the right thing and mandate that law enforcement in the state adhere to a set of best practices that everyone agrees will reliably collect eyewitness evidence and reduce false identifications.

UPDATE: It turns out that the man who was incriminated by the DNA evidence that exonerated Mr. White was in the same lineup from which the victim selected Mr. White. But Mr. White was the primary suspect, and sure enough, the victim picked the man police had in their crosshairs. Just another example of why blind lineup procedures are critical to getting at the truth.

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