You are charged with a violent crime that took place late at night in your neighborhood. At the time, you were home alone watching TV.  But somehow, two eyewitnesses have picked you out of a photo line up. Can an expert witness challenge their testimony at trial?

Since 2016, Illinois courts have said yes, at the judge’s discretion.  Expert opinion regarding the reliability of eyewitness testimony has become widely accepted. DNA testing has confirmed that eyewitness misidentification is responsible for more wrongful convictions than all other causes combined.

In People v. Lerma,  the Illinois Supreme Court held that the defendant was denied a fair trial when the judge refused to allow an expert on the reliability of eyewitness identification.  In that case, the victim was shot to death while sitting with a friend on his front steps.  The victim (before his death) and the friend identified the defendant as the shooter.  The defendant sought to use an expert to explain common misperceptions about eyewitness testimony.  For example, a witness’s level of confidence in their identification does not equal reliability. 

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  Did the eyewitnesses really see what they thought they saw?  Even if the state’s evidence is airtight, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own. 

 If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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