Gatekeeping or Gaslighting? How Courts Mislead Juries by Excluding Expert Testimony on the Accuracy of Eyewitness Identifications

Historically, eyewitness identifications have been considered the gold standard of trial evidence. There’s little that’s more convincing than a witness on the stand confidently pointing at a defendant and proclaiming, under oath, “that’s the one!” However, over the last half century it has become clear that eyewitness identification may actually be one of the most fallible evidentiary tools, despite common misconceptions of its accuracy. Even in the face of growing research demonstrating the unreliability of eyewitness identification, courts have been slow to allow experts to testify to that unreliability in the courtroom. Judges instead bar them as unqualified or unhelpful under Federal Rule of Evidence 702. In this Contribution, Zoe Farkas (’23) argues that these experts are not only qualified and helpful, but absolutely essential to help juries fulfill their fact-finder duties.

The Prison Mailbox Rule and Represented Appellants

The prison mailbox rule, as codified in Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(c), states that an incarcerated litigant’s notice of appeal is considered timely filed if it is deposited in the prison’s internal mailing system on or before the filing deadline. The Supreme Court introduced this rule in the context of a pro se prisoner, and it remains unclear whether represented prisoners may also benefit from the rule. In this Contribution, Rose Kent (’22) argues that Rule 4(c) applies to all incarcerated people, regardless of whether they are represented by counsel.