Massachusetts law about eyewitness identification

Guidelines, cases, and web sources on eyewitness identification law.

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Table of Contents

Court rules and guidelines

Massachusetts guide to evidence, § 1112: eyewitness identification, 2021.

Mass. rules of criminal procedure 14(a)(1)(A)(viii): pretrial discovery
"The prosecution shall disclose to the defense...a summary of identification procedures, and all statements made in the presence of or by an identifying witness that are relevant to the issue of identity or to the fairness or accuracy of the identification procedures."

Jury instructions

Selected cases

Web sources

Identifying the culprit: assessing eyewitness identification, National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council Committee Report (2014) (Free pdf download on right hand side of page).
“In this report, the committee offers recommendations on how law enforcement and the courts may increase the accuracy and utility of eyewitness identifications. In addition, the committee identifies areas for future research and for collaboration between the scientific and law enforcement communities.” 

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Study Group on Eyewitness Evidence report, 2013.
Goal of the report was to “offer guidance as to how our courts can most effectively deter unnecessarily suggestive identification procedures and minimize the risk of a wrongful conviction.” 

Understanding the new eyewitness I.D. jury instruction, by Peter Elikann, MBA Journal, March 2015.
Explains the jury instruction coming out of the Gomes decision.

Print sources

Convicting the innocent: where criminal prosecutions go wrong, by Brandon Garrett, Harvard University Press, 2011. 
Cited in the SJC Study Group Report, above. 

Criminal defense motions, 5th ed. (Mass. practice v. 42) West, 2019. 
§ 5:23 Witness statement concerning identification; § 5:25. Information relating to identification of defendant; §§ 8:45 – 8:49, Exclude evidence, identification.

Criminal law, 3rd ed. (Mass. practice v. 32) West, 2001 with supplement.
Section 144, Direct evidence.

Criminal practice and procedure, 4th ed. (Mass. practice v. 30) Thomson Reuters, 2014 with supplement.
Chapter 8, Eyewitness identification evidence, Sections 8:1 – 8:72.

Criminal procedure for law and justice professionals: case briefs for arrest, search & seizure, confession law and eyewitness identification, 20th ed., Blue360Media.
Chapter 12, Eyewitness Identification.

Eyewitness identification, MCLE, 2022.

Massachusetts criminal law:  a District Court prosecutor’s guide, Massachusetts Prosecutor’s Guide 2018. 
Pp. 467-506, Identification.

Massachusetts Superior Court criminal practice jury instructions, 3rd ed., MCLE, loose-leaf.
Section 6.2, Identification.

Suppression matters under Massachusetts law, annual, LexisNexis.
Chapter 19, Motions to suppress identifications.

Trends in eyewitness identification, MCLE, 2016.

Contact   for Massachusetts law about eyewitness identification

Last updated: September 21, 2023

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