Eyewitness Identification Reform in Massachusetts

Stanley Z. Fisher, Boston University School of Law


This article traces the impact of the new scientific learning upon police eyewitness identification procedures in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Over the past 25 years, experimental psychologists have devised more reliable techniques for gathering eyewitness identification evidence than have been traditionally used by police. Massachusetts has over 350 autonomous municipal police departments, plus approximately 39 college campus police departments, the state police, and the MBTA (transit) Police Department. The decision how to investigate crime rests principally with the police chief responsible for each department. How does such a system of policing absorb new, scientifically superior methods of investigation?