Evaluating Eyewitness Identification Evidence in the 21st Century
Hon. Stuart Rabner, Chief Justice, New Jersey Supreme Court
In the more than three decades since the United States Supreme Court announced a test for the admission of eyewitness identification evidence in Manson v. Brathwaite, 432 US 98 (1977), a vast body of scientific research about human memory has emerged. That work cast doubt on the vitality of the established framework for analyzing and admitting eyewitness identifications.
In August 2011, after examining hundreds of scientific studies and testimony by numerous experts, the New Jersey Supreme Court concluded that the prevailing legal standard did not provide a sufficient measure for reliability, did not deter misconduct, and overstated the jury’s innate ability to evaluate eyewitness testimony. In response, the Court announced certain changes to the legal framework in State v. Henderson.
The lecture will examine how the Court reached that point, the revised legal test that now applies under New Jersey law, the need for enhanced jury charges relating to eyewitness identification, and the reasons underlying the new standard.
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner was sworn into office on June 29, 2007 after being nominated by Governor Jon S. Corzine and confirmed by the Senate. He is the eighth Chief Justice to lead the New Jersey Supreme Court since the 1947 Constitution.
Born on June 30, 1960, Chief Justice Rabner was raised in Passaic. He graduated summa cum laude from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 1982. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1985. He was a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise before joining the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark in 1986.
After beginning his career as an assistant U.S. attorney, Chief Justice Rabner worked in a number of positions including first assistant U.S. attorney and chief of the terrorism unit. He was chief of the office's criminal division when he was named chief counsel to Governor Corzine in January 2006. He was named New Jersey attorney general in September 2006 and served in that position until his nomination to the Court.
Chief Justice Rabner and his wife, the former Deborah Wiener, have three children.