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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: March 7, 2017 02:43 PM
From: Representative Robert F. Matzie
To: All House members
Subject: Eyewitness Identification Procedures (Re-Introduction)
In the near future, I will be re-introducing legislation – former House Bill 889 of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session – that would establish procedures and guidelines for eyewitness identification and testimony.

According to data cited by the National Institute of Justice, misidentification by eyewitnesses was the leading cause of wrongful conviction in more than 75 percent of the first 183 DNA exonerations in the United States. Given the vital importance of eyewitness testimony and identification to both the victims and the accused, my legislation would require municipal police departments and the Pennsylvania State Police to adopt procedures for conducting photo and live lineups that comply with certain criteria. The bill also requires:
  • Witness instructions prior to a lineup;
  • A written record of the identification procedure;
  • Remedies for non-compliance; and
  • Training for law enforcement officers and recruits on the methods and technical aspects of eyewitness identification practices and procedures.

Eyewitnesses play a vital role in the judicial process. Eyewitness testimony can be key in identifying, charging, and convicting a suspect in a criminal case, and in some cases, eyewitness evidence may be the only evidence available. Therefore, I urge you to please join me in supporting this important legislation.

Previous Co-Sponsors – Former House Bill 889 of 2015-2016 - DeLUCA, J. HARRIS, SCHLOSSBERG, THOMAS, BROWNLEE, STURLA, BISHOP, C. PARKER, V. BROWN, COHEN, ROZZI and GIBBONS

Introduced as HB1129