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The United States Supreme Court has not taken a hard look at the reliability of eyewitness testimony since 1977. The Court has agreed to revisit the issue in November. Since the time the issue was before the Court, more than 2,000 studies have been published in professional journals regarding the reliability, or lack of reliability, concerning eyewitness identifications. The nation's highest court previously ruled that judges can exclude some eyewitness identifications if the testimony is unreliable.

The difficulty with the current state of the law on the subject is highlighted by the number of wrongful convictions that have been obtained based upon mistaken identity. Criminal defense attorneys in California and across the country have regularly argued and researchers have compiled a long list of studies indicating that of the roughly 75,000 eyewitness identifications used in the country each year, about one-third are simply wrong.

Research shows that eyewitness identifications can lead to wrongful convictions. Many wrongfully convicted defendants have been exonerated by DNA analysis across the country. Of the first 250 exonerations, researchers say 190 cases involved the mistaken testimony of an eyewitness. Witnesses on those cases reportedly were certain they had identified the right person. One was "120 percent sure," reports the New York Times. Another witness had absolutely no question the wrongfully convicted defendant was involved.

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