Making a Murderer has captured the imagination of many Americans.
The Netflix storyline, in part, is about an accused individual named Steven Avery of Wisconsin who spent 18 years in prison for a rape he did not commit.
Lets not focus on the fact he was railroaded.
Lets consider the issue of eyewitness misidentification.
The question is often asked could the same situation occur even today?
The answer is absolutely YES.
Because the basis of the rape conviction was the victim’s absolute certainty that Avery raped her.
The woman was entirely believable, very educated and professional. At trial she said something to the effect that his face was burned into her memory like a photograph.
That’s pretty convincing evidence right?
It turned out she was wrong. Honestly mistaken, but wrong nonetheless.
It was conclusively shown that he could not have committed the rape in question.
This goes to the heart of a very serious matter in criminal law. That is the question of eyewitness misidentification.
Witness identification is the MOST UNRELIABLE type of Evidence in the Law.
Pittsburgh wrongful death, medical malpractice, car accident, trucking accident and criminal defense attorney Bernie Tully wants you to know that Courts are also very suspicious of eyewitness identification.
As a matter fact, in Pennsylvania, our Supreme Court has recently decided that expert testimony should be allowed in certain cases of eyewitness identification to point out the unreliability of the evidence.
The court recognized that in the heat of the moment involving a crime, ones ability to perceive,record and remember events is often distorted.
The ironic thing is that the victim who makes a misidentification usually believes passionately that he or she has identified the right person.
The other thing about the documentary that Pittsburgh wrongful death, medical malpractice, car accident and slip and fall and criminal defense attorney Bernie Tully thought was very realistic was the Catch-22 of the parole system.
In the drama, Avery could have gotten out of prison on early parole. But in order to do so he had to admit that he committed the crime.
The reasoning behind that is admission of your guilt is considered the first step towards rehabilitation.
But how do you admit to a crime that you didn’t do?
Incredibly a similar standard applies in Pennsylvania under our parole system.
In Pennsylvania if you want to be paroled early you are expected to admit that you committed the crime as a condition of rehabilitation.
Crazy isn’t it?
What do you think of the documentary?
Do you think he was railroaded?
What do you think can be done in criminal law to prevent misidentifications?
Thanks for reading.
You are the best.
Bernie the attorney.