SJC announces new jury instructions on eyewitness
The Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court have announced that
they have approved new jury instructions on eyewitness
identification. The new model instruction replaces the provisional
instruction approved in Commonwealth v. Gomes, 470 Mass.
352, 379-388 (2015). A new preliminary/contemporaneous instruction
also has been approved that will be given, upon request of a party,
before opening statements or immediately before or after the
testimony of an identifying witness.
In Gomes, the court stated that it would adopt a model
instruction after soliciting public comments on the provisional
instruction. In approving the new instructions, the justices
expressed appreciation to the Standing Committee on Eyewitness
Identification for their recommendations regarding revisions to the
provisional instruction, and to the members of the bench and bar
who submitted thoughtful comments.
Noting that the instructions will need to evolve with new
developments in the science of identification and with the
experience of judges using them, the justices asked the Standing
Committee to continue to review the applicable science, monitor the
efficacy of the instructions in providing guidance to jurors and
recommend further revisions as needed or warranted.
The statement of the Supreme Judicial Court, the
preliminary/contemporaneous instruction, and the Model Eyewitness
Identification Instruction can be found at 473 Mass. 1051 (2015),
and are also available at www.mass.gov/courts.
SJC to host Magna Carta exhibit on 800th
In recognition of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will host "Magna Carta:
Enduring Legacy 1215-2015" in the Great Hall of the John Adams
Courthouse from November through January.
The traveling exhibit was developed by the American Bar
Association, the Library of Congress and the Law Library of
Congress. The exhibit features 13 banners reflecting images of
Magna Carta and other manuscripts and objects that illustrate Magna
Carta's influence throughout the centuries. The exhibit will be
displayed in the Great Hall of the John Adams Courthouse, opened
Nov. 19, and is viewable to the public Monday through Friday,
excluding holidays, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., until Jan. 7,
The Supreme Judicial Court, originally called the Superior Court
of Judicature, was established in 1692 and is the oldest appellate
court in continuous existence in the Western Hemisphere.
The Massachusetts Constitution is the oldest, still functioning
written constitution in the world.
The exhibit has travelled throughout the past year and a half to
public buildings such as courthouses, law schools, universities,
state houses and public libraries around the United States. For
more information about the American Bar Association's "Magna Carta:
Enduring Legacy 1215-2015" exhibit, visit http://ambar.org/mctravelingexhibit.