A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

Download State v. HendersonHenderson Opinion 8 25 11

Note from Isla Fruchter:

The New Jersey Supremes just issued an opinion in the case of State v Larry R. Henderson, 2011 N.J. LEXIS 927, decided Aug. 24, 2011, which breaks the law wide open and should be quite influential on other jurisdictions as it is based on evidence gathered by a special master at hearings featuring various people with id expertise over a wide area.

HELD: The current legal standard for assessing eyewitness identification evidence must be revised because it doesnot offer an adequate measure for reliability; does not sufficiently deter inappropriate police conduct; and overstates the jury’s ability to evaluate identification evidence. Two modifications to the standard are required. First, when defendants can show some evidence of suggestiveness, all relevant system and estimator variables should be explored at pretrial hearings. Second, the court system must develop enhanced jury charges on eyewitness identification for trial judges to use. Defendant is entitled to a new pretrial hearing consistent with this opinion to
determine the admissibility of the eyewitness evidence introduced at his trial.

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