Could you be a reliable eyewitness? Want to test your skills with some expert attorneys?
On Tuesday, October 4, 2016, in recognition of “International Wrongful Conviction Day,” the Hawai‘i Innocence Project will challenge audience members to see how well they can identify a possible suspect in a mock exercise at the UH Law School.
The program, titled “Eyewitness Identification,” is scheduled from 12 noon to 1:15 p.m. in Classroom 2. Lunch is available in the courtyard; donations are welcome. Similar programs are taking place across the nation and around the world.
“Eyewitness Identification” aims to demonstrate pitfalls in the standard technique that has been used in courtrooms for decades. Documentation has begun to show that faulty eyewitness identification accounts for as much as 75 percent of all wrongful convictions, according to Innocence Project data.
The Hawai‘i Innocence Project is run by faculty members at the William S. Richardson School of Law, with assistance from community attorneys. In 2011, using advanced DNA testing technology, the Hawai‘i project succeeded in having Alvin Francis Jardine exonerated after he spent almost 20 years in prison for a rape and burglary he consistently maintained that he did not commit. The national organization has freed several hundred wrongly incarcerated people by using advanced DNA testing.
As part of the national Innocence Project network, Faculty Specialist Kenneth Lawson and Associate Dean Ronette Kawakami head the project and work with other attorneys on cases in Hawai‘i. Said Law Dean Avi Soifer, “Our faculty and students, along with our cooperating attorneys, deserve great admiration for their passionate, tireless work to free those who have been unjustly imprisoned.”
The October 4 program will help show just how fallible eyewitness testimony can be.