Governor Edwards signs legislation allowing eyewitness identification experts the right to testify in criminal trials.

Innocence Project New Orleans Staff Attorney Kia Hayes says this policy bring the state in line with most of the rest of nation and could help cut down on the instances of false identifications. Before last Wednesday…

“Louisiana bared experts in the area of memory and witness identification from testifying in criminal trials, educating the jury about the unreliability of eyewitness identification.”

The law passed the legislature unanimously.

The reform specifies that those experts can be called in to potentially speak about the unreliability of eyewitness identification when there is no physical evidence to corroborates an accuser’s account. Hayes pointed out one such situation where a victim’s recollection of a perp’s face might be questionable…

“In the crime, if the perpetrator is carrying a weapon, then the witness if more likely to be looking at the weapon, and not at the perpetrator’s face.”

Wilbert Jones was in attendance for the bill signing. Mr. Jones was exonerated after serving 46 years in prison on a rape charge stemming from a single eyewitness. At the time the witness told police she wasn’t 100 percent certain about the ID, and Hayes says that kind of info could have changed Jones’ life.

“If it had been in place when he was at trial, it could have prevented him and so many other people from being wrongly convicted in the first place.”

Hayes says 28 people, that they know of, have been convicted on a case of mistaken identity.