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Vaunted eyewitness testimony: often wrong as can be

Many of our readers in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin have likely seen crime-tinged movies and television dramas -- in fact, scores of them -- where an individual steps up to save the day for state or federal prosecutors by confidently pointing out the guilty party from the witness stand.

The scene is iconic in America, with relieved finality often attaching to a case following firm eyewitness testimony that literally fingers a guilty party.

There's just one problem with that rendering in many instances, which necessitates this caveat: what people often say they saw does not actually reflect reality.

And, sometimes, their reports aren't even close to the truth of what happened in a given criminal case.

An overview of eyewitness identification relevant to wrongful criminal convictions cites this immediately disturbing finding: mistakes made by individuals offering eyewitness testimony play a central role "in more than 70% of convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide."

In fact, notes the national advocacy group Innocence Project, eyewitness testimony is often fraught with inaccuracies that owe to questionable police procedures and processes.

Proven defense lawyers know that eyewitness identifications that target specific individuals in acts of alleged wrongdoing are to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

That means this: dispassionately and with skepticism that demands proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys at Buting, Williams & Stilling routinely provide knowledgeable and aggressive advocacy on behalf of individuals in wrongful conviction matters focused upon misplaced identification and other factors.

Strong legal representation in such cases can encompass diligent work focused on both appeals and post-conviction matters, and extend to alleged criminal conduct ranging from sex/drug offenses, Internet sex crimes and white-collar charges to violent crimes, drunk driving and many additional matters.

A wrongful conviction -- attributable to any cause -- is a truly frightful proposition for an individual, with devastating consequences. Experienced legal counsel can work hard to identify errors and promote equity in a case where injustice has resulted.

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