- The memory of many eyewitnesses is as fragile and unreliable as any other piece of crime scene evidence and can be altered by careless evidence gathering. The misidentification of Jennifer Thompson's rapist is cited as a particularly clear-cut example. See Jennifer Thompson's op-ed piece and the summary of the Frontline show on the case.
- The testimony of a confident eyewitness who makes an incorrect identification is enormously persuasive to juries.
- The traditional tools of a defense attorney, cross-examination of the witness and contradictory circumstantial evidence, are often not persuasive against a confident eyewitness who is wrong.
- The judicial system is not very good at preserving the memories of eyewitnesses or the measures of its reliability.
- Some changes in police procedures can improve the quality of gathered eyewitness evidence. It is not clear, however, how much error will remain, indeed the amount of error has not been carefully studied.
- There is some effort to get these changes adopted; it has gone furthest in New Jersey and North Carolina. There are, however, many jurisdictions where these changes have not been adopted.
- With the best will in the world, eyewitness evidence will never be certain.
"Of the first 77 wrongful convictions overturned by DNA evidence, 65 resulted from witness error."