Defendant Should Have Been Allowed to Present Expert Opinion-Evidence About the Reliability of Eyewitness Identification
The Fourth Department, over a two-justice dissent, determined defendant should have been allowed to present expert evidence about the reliability of eyewitness identifications. The court explained the analytical criteria:
“Because mistaken eyewitness identifications play a significant role in many wrongful convictions, and expert testimony on the subject of eyewitness recognition memory can educate a jury concerning the circumstances in which an eyewitness is more likely to make such mistakes, courts are encouraged . . . in appropriate cases’ to grant defendants’ motions to admit expert testimony on this subject” … , the Court of Appeals established a two-stage inquiry for considering a motion to admit expert testimony on eyewitness identification … . “The first stage is deciding whether the case turns on the accuracy of eyewitness identifications and there is little or no corroborating evidence connecting the defendant to the crime’ … . If the trial court finds itself with such a case, then it must proceed to the second stage, which involves the application of four factors. The court must decide whether the proposed testimony is (1) relevant to the witness’s identification of defendant, (2) based on principles that are generally accepted within the relevant scientific community, (3) proffered by a qualified expert and (4) on a topic beyond the ken of the average juror’ … . If, on the other hand, sufficient evidence corroborates an eyewitness’s identification of the defendant, then there is no obligation on the part of the trial court to proceed to the second stage of analysis, because testimony concerning eyewitness identifications is unnecessary” … .
Here, the People concede that this case hinges upon the accuracy of the eyewitness’s identification of defendant, and we agree with defendant that there was little or no corroborating evidence connecting him to the crime … . People v McCullough, 2015 NY Slip Op 02589, 4th Dept 3-27-15