Jury Instructions v. Expert Testimony

New Study: Expanded Eyewitness Jury Instruction Makes Jurors Suspicious of Any Eyewitness — Even in Strong Cases

Defense attorneys are increasingly seeking expanded jury instructions on the reliability of eyewitnesses in lieu of calling a defense expert. A recent study in New Jersey has demonstrated that jurors who received these instructions “indiscriminately discounted ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ testimony in equal measure.”

Articles about the Study:

  • Educating jurors on eyewitness reliability may backfire study suggests
    • ABA Journal (1/27/16)  Read
  • Study: New Jersey’s Enhanced Eyewitness Testimony Instructions Too Potent
    • Philly Voice (12/10/15)  Read
  • A Judge’s Guidance Makes Jurors Suspicious Of Any Eyewitness
    • NPR (1/26/16)  Read

Arguments in Opposition to Enhanced Jury Instructions:

  • Outline by AUSA Patricia Riley
    • DC US Attorney’s Office (2016) Read
  • For more information about opposition to jury instructions on cross-race, stress, weapon focus, and duration/distance please contact AUSA Riley at patricia.riley2@usdoj.gov.

The Study:

  • The Novel New Jersey Eyewitness Instruction Induces Skepticism but not Sensitivity
    • Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Papers (12/9/2015) Read