Manson v. Brathwaite Revisited: Towards a New Rule of Decision for Due Process Challenges to Eyewitness Identification Procedures

Giovanna Shay, Yale Law School


A major cause of wrongful convictions is mistaken eyewitness identification. The leading Supreme Court case governing due process challenges to identification procedures, Manson v. Brathwaite, is almost 30 years old, and does not account for decades of social science research on eyewitness I.D. In fact, parts of the Manson test designed to ensure reliability run counter to research findings. In this piece, O'Toole and Shay describe the problems with the Manson test, and propose a new rule of decision for due process challenges to identification procedures.