Before he was executed in Georgia last week, Troy Davis brought worldwide attention to his case by challenging the trustworthiness of bystanders who said they saw him shoot a police officer. Davis lost the battle to spare his life, but experts say his case adds fuel to an already-simmering debate over how much weight courts should give to eyewitness testimony.
Last month, New Jersey’s top court made it easier for criminal defendants to challenge the credibility of eyewitnesses, while the U.S. Supreme Court is set in November to hear its first case dealing with eyewitness evidence in 34 years. Such issues also played a role in the abolition of Illinois’ death penalty earlier this year and a 2009 law narrowing when capital punishment can be sought in Maryland.
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