Radha Natarajan and Erik Doughty reflect on the revolutionary contributions Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants made to eyewitness identification law in Massachusetts. From convening the Study Group on Eyewitness Evidence to authoring several seminal eyewitness identification cases, Chief Justice Gants’s contributions represented a seismic shift in how eyewitness evidence would be treated in Massachusetts. That sea change, which included rewriting jury instructions, restricting in-court identifications, and reexamining how to assess eyewitness reliability, developed from a rigorous fidelity to scientific development. This foray into the scientific study behind eyewitness identifications has created a template for tackling other complex issues in the criminal legal system including racial disparities, implicit bias, and credibility determinations, and provides a model for other jurisdictions to follow.
Radha Natarajan & Erik Doughty, Reflections on a Revolution: How Chief Justice Gants Made Massachusetts a Leader in Eyewitness Identification Law, 62 B.C. L. Rev. 2725 (2021), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol62/iss8/10