TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida Supreme Court has approved new jury instructions on eyewitness identifications, the leading cause of wrongful convictions.
The contentious instructions were adopted on Wednesday. They will require judges to tell jurors to consider factors that include whether witnesses are of the same race or ethnic group as defendants in evaluating the accuracy of their identifications.
Another factor is the capacity and opportunity of a witness to observe a suspect including the length of time, lighting and distance. Jurors also should consider whether witnesses rely solely on their own recollection or have been influenced in some way and their familiarity with those they are identifying.
Advocates for the wrongly convicted say the instructions are too weak. Some prosecutors say there should be no eyewitness instructions.