Friday, December 25, 2009
The Salt Lake Tribune covers the decision of the Utah Supreme Court here:
[A] judge refused to allow the expert, David Dodd, to testify and instead warned jurors about the dangers of eyewitness testimony with a jury instruction, which had been the common practice of courts for two decades, the opinion said.
Clopten appealed, and the Utah Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction. But the justices on Friday said the circumstances of Clopten's case -- mainly prosecutors' heavy reliance on eyewitness testimony -- are "exactly those under which the testimony of an eyewitness expert is most helpful to a jury."
. . .
Chief Justice Christine Durham wrote for the court: "We are not mandating the admission of eyewitness expert testimony in every case. We expect, however, that in cases involving eyewitness identification of strangers or near-strangers, trial courts will routinely admit expert testimony."
Associate Chief Justice Matthew Durrant and Michael Wilkins dissented in part, saying the high court should not remove the discretion of trial judges and create a presumption in favor of eyewitness expert testimony.