Eyewitness Identification Jury Instruction Introduced by Florida Supreme Court

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 – After a watershed Order by The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday, Florida trial judges are now required to instruct jurors on factors such as race and familiarity that should be considered when evaluating the accuracy of eyewitness identifications, the leading cause of wrongful convictions.

Eyewitness Identification Jury Instruction Introduced by Florida Supreme Court The Florida Supreme Court unanimously adopted three new standard jury instructions and amendments to an existing standard criminal jury instruction, as proposed by the Supreme Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases.

The new standard jury instruction on “Eyewitness Identification” will have tremendous impact in criminal jury trials throughout Florida, and had received significant input prior to adoption. It’s opposed by some prosecutors, who say judges shouldn’t be commenting on evidence, as well as advocates for the wrongly convicted, who say it’s too weak.

Two committee members, both prosecutors, submitted a minority report contending the instruction violates case and statutory law and will require judges to abandon their neutral positions by reiterating evidence presented by one side.

The Innocence Project of Florida, which has helped free wrongly convicted inmates through DNA testing, contended in comments filed with the high court that the instruction fails to reflect scientific understanding of how to properly asses the reliability of eyewitness identifications. It had urged the justices to ask for a more robust rule or appoint a special master to hear evidence on how it could be strengthened.

The new Florida standard jury instruction on Eyewitness Identification reads as follows:

3.9(f) EYEWITNESS IDENTIFICATION

You have heard testimony of eyewitness identification. In deciding how much weight to give to this testimony, you may consider the various factors mentioned in these instructions concerning credibility of witnesses.

In addition to those factors, in evaluating eyewitness identification testimony, you may also consider:

  1. The capacity and opportunity of the eyewitness to observe the offender based upon the length of time for observation and the conditions at the time of observation, including lighting and distance.
  2. Whether the identification was the product of the eyewitness’s own recollection or was the result of influence or suggestiveness.
  3. The circumstances under which the defendant was presented to the eyewitness for identification.
  4. Any inconsistent identifications made by the eyewitness.
  5. Any instance in which the eyewitness did not make an identification when given the opportunity to do so.
  6. The witness’s familiarity with the subject identified.
  7. Lapses of time between the event and the identification[s].
  8. Whether the eyewitness and the offender are of different races or ethnic groups, and whether this may have affected the accuracy of the identification.
  9. The totality of circumstances surrounding the eyewitness’s identification.

Read the entire Order by The Florida Supreme Court: IN RE: STANDARD JURY INSTRUCTIONS IN CRIMINAL CASES—REPORT NO. 2011-05.

If you are in need of an experienced and proven criminal defense attorney, contact us at 877-377-7801. And visit our blog often for updates on our firm, articles on trends in the legal industry, and tips for exercising and protecting your legal rights.

Client Reviews
Mr.Jones went beyond needed services as a lawyer to help me with my very in depth case. Very helpful throughout the whole 6-7 month process. Not only did he get all my questions answered to the best of his abilities but also really showed compassion for my family & I during the case as well as after. 5 star lawyer, highly recommended. Thank you for all your hard work!
★★★★★
I hired Mr. Jones to represent my son. We had never had to hire a lawyer and I was anxious. Mr. Jones took the time to explain what was happening and it helped lessen my concerns. Once we hired him he started work immediately and was able to get my son's case thrown out. We are very satisfied with his services. Robert H.
★★★★★
I hired Christopher for situation I got myself in. He worked hard to get my case dropped. I definitely would recommend this attorney to anyone needing one. He puts his heart in his work. Roy M.
★★★★★
I had the pleasure of having Mr. Edwards represent me in 2006. While I was charged with a crime, Mr Edwards insisted sternly that he was very confident he could successfully defend the charges against me. This man exudes confidence. It is my opinion that he is clearly one of the best lawyers in the city of Gainesville. You can't go wrong with Mr. Edwards!!! Everette Sr.
★★★★★
We are from Lake City, Florida. As parents, we sought the help of Mr. Edwards in my daughter's behalf. As a young lady, she had acquired multiple felonies with the prospect of 10-15 years in prison facing her. Mr. Edwards heard our case, took it on with confidence, and got her sentence reduced to 10 years probation, and restitution. That was 8 years ago, and my daughter is married, has a son, and is doing great. She hasn't even had a traffic violation. Because Mr. Edwards believed in us and took a chance, we will be forever be in his debt. He is a great lawyer, with a very big heart. Colin
★★★★★
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Contact Us