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“Protecting the Innocent: Louisiana’s Reform of Eyewitness Identification”

Loyola press release - November 8, 2018

“Protecting the Innocent: Louisiana’s Reform of Eyewitness Identification”

Panel talk hosted by Loyola Law Review explores new legislation and implementation going forward

Louisiana has a high rate of wrongful convictions and subsequent exonerations due to problems with eyewitness identification. In May, the state legislature passed a law designed to improve related eyewitness identification procedures used by law enforcement. On Friday, a panel of leading experts visits Loyola University New Orleans College of Law for a full-day symposium focused on change and best practices.

“Protecting the Innocent: Louisiana’s Reform of Eyewitness Identification,” hosted by the Loyola Law Review will be held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, in Room 308, at the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, 546 Pine St. New Orleans, La. 70118. The event is free and open to the public. The event is also a registered skills course and qualifies for 4.0 Hours CLE credit for law practitioners.

In May, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law Senate Bill 38, critical legislation that requires all police agencies in Louisiana to mandate long-established eyewitness identification procedures to help prevent wrongful convictions. More specifically, the legislation requires that police agencies adopt the Louisiana Sheriff’s Executive Management Institute model policy on eyewitness identification procedures or write its own policy based on specified scientifically-supported best practices.

The full-day symposium at Loyola tomorrow is designed to address why the legislation was necessary, the impact it is likely to have, and next steps for implementation if this groundbreaking law is to be truly successful.

On tap is an exciting panel of speakers committed to seeing change, including:

  • Malcolm Alexander and Glenn Davis, who were wrongfully incarcerated on the basis of flawed eyewitness testimony
  • Dr. Jennifer Dysart, a national expert in the science behind witness identification
  • Jennifer Thompson, co-author of Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption
  • Advocates, legislators, and law enforcement officials who helped to advance the new legislation in Louisiana, including:
    • La. State Sen. Wesley Bishop, sponsor and drafter of legislation aimed to reduce wrongful convictions
    • Orleans Criminal District Court Judge, the Hon. Laurie A. White
    • Sherriff Craig Webre, representative of the Louisiana Sherriff’s Association and Sherriff of Lafourche Parish
    • E. Pete Adams, executive director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association
    • Jee Park, executive director of the Innocence Project New Orleans

“Adoption of this new law was a major step in reducing wrongful convictions and incarcerations in Louisiana and improving the criminal justice system,” said Dean and Adrian G. Duplantier Professor of Law Madeleine M. Landrieu.

“This important legislation represents the collaboration and hard work of a coalition of legislators, law enforcement and advocates. The next step will be implementation and Friday’s symposium is aimed at exploring what needs to happen next to ensure the truly transformative impact we anticipate going forward.”

Click here for the symposium agenda.