New York state judges will be required, if asked, to instruct juries that witness identifications of suspects who are a different race than the identifying witness may be less reliable, the state’s highest court ruled late last week.
The state Court of Appeals on Thursday issued an uncorrected opinion, People v. Boone, No. 55, stating that during final instructions a trial court is required to give—upon request—a jury charge on cross-race effect. The jury would be instructed to consider whether there is a racial difference between the defendant and the witness who identified the defendant. If so, the jury should consider that people “have a greater difficulty accurately identifying members of a different race than in accurately identifying members of their own race,” the opinion states.
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