eyewitness testimony in court cases

Miles, who completed his high school degree in prison, is now waiting for the Appeals court to make the final ruling on whether he should receive a new trial. Faulty eyewitness testimony has been implicated in at least 75% of DNA exoneration cases—more than any other cause (Garrett, 2011). Ronald Cotton was charged and convicted of both rapes, and he was sentenced to life in prison plus 54 years. Loftus EF. Eyewitness testimony is what happens when a person witnesses a crime (or accident, or other legally important event) and later gets up on the stand and recalls for the court all the details of the witnessed event. 2013;14(9):649‐658. Last night's execution of convicted murderer Troy Davis reportedly sent those convinced of Davis' innocence into hysterics. On May 3, 1982, in a Norfolk, Va. circuit court… So by having credible witnesses under oath, the jury will be able to determine whether the defendant is guilty of the crime he or she is being accused of. Another one involved a man named Brandon Garrett from the University of Virginia School of Law who ended up analyzing 161 cases of eyewitness misidentification that ended up getting exonerated because of DNA (Ryan, 2015). You can follow any comments to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Whether or not a person is convicted of a crime can come down to the reliability of an eyewitness and how confidently he or she conveys testimony to a jury. Technical Working Group for Eyewitness Evidence: Training Teams. Eyewitness Testimony Is Unreliable… Or Is It? When the audience was asked to identify the vandal in a lineup, the accuracy of the witnesses’ identifications depended on the instructions the researchers had given them. Eyewitness testimony remains a crucial part of the criminal justice system, but it has flaws. The feedback a witness is given also makes a difference. Eyewitness identification procedures: Recommendations for lineups and photospreads. 2011. doi:10.1093/OBO/9780199828340-0026‌. It really makes you think whether or not these eyewitness testimonies should even be used, or who to actually believe and who not to believe. Research has found that eyewitness-identification testimony can be very unreliable. Eyewitness testimony is not always about identifying the perpetrator. Greg Hurley, Knowledge and Information Services Analyst, National Center for State Courts. A 2016 study called “The Bad is Black Effect” found that when participants were asked to identify perpetrators, they were more likely to choose darker-skinned individuals for more heinous crimes.. The speed estimates the students provided were affected by the verb used to ask the question. Loftus EF. Eyewitness testimony can be a prominent and compelling form of evidence in a courtroom. This tendency makes it more likely a witness will identify an innocent suspect who happens to closely resemble the real perpetrator. Another factor that could make the testimony unreliable is that research has shown that the type of event could be influential in the amount of information that the witness actually remembers, which could fault them on remembering details of the event (Bryant, 2020). In addition to an almost slavish reliance on eyewitness testimony, a review of the Dallas County DNA cases showed that: *Thirteen of the 19 wrongly convicted men were black. Antonio Mallet’s conviction rested on testimony from one eyewitness who, in a new court filing, now says NYPD detectives assaulted him and threatened to lock him up if he didn’t blame Mallet for the murder. What if there are people on death row that got convicted because of this as well? After looking at a photographic lineup of the suspects, Thompson identified Ronald Cotton as the man who had assaulted her. Innocence Project. 1998;22(6):603-647. doi:10.1023/A:1025750605807, Steblay NK, Wells GL, Douglass AB. Consequently, their bias affects how much information they retain about a suspect. The neuroscience of memory: Implications for the courtroom. Eyewitness testimony Eyewitness testimony can play a big part in criminal court cases. Eyewitness Testimony has been a controversial topic in court cases for as long as I can remember. On May 3, 1982, in a Norfolk, Va. circuit court, the 29-year-old was convicted of a rape that he did not commit and was sentenced to five life sentences. The general population believes eyewitness identification more than any other evidence, even if the witness account is conflicting with the other evidence presented. The U.S. Supreme Court has addressed both the admission and reliability of eyewitness evidence in criminal cases. Lessons from the origins of eyewitness testimony research in Europe. This expert may discuss cognitive psychology and how it may have played a part in the case. Critiquing Eyewitness Testimony . The researchers concluded that word choice by investigators can potentially prompt witnesses to remember events as being worse than they were in reality. However, eyewitness testimony has a fatal flaw: It is not always accurate. Therefore, it is important that eyewitness testimony presented in court is accurate. Eyewitness testimony has been commonplace in courtrooms around the world and throughout history, but it has a complex place in criminal investigations. Here's what you need to know about how eyewitness testimony works and why its reliability is often questioned. Eyewitness Testimony. Whether someone saw a car speeding down the street minutes after an accident or they were inside a store when it was robbed, eyewitnesses are often the first source police turn to when gathering information about a crime. It is suggested that the older a witness is, their memory could be declining, which in turn could cause them to not remember as many details and not be as reliable as a younger witness (Bryant, 2020). But in most cases, that confidence is misplaced. It may or may not tell what actually happened. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice. … Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory. Journal of Applied Psychology. Eyewitness Testimony. Law enforcement and the courts should follow the recommendations of social scientists when using and assessing eyewitness techniques, such as lineups, in criminal cases. A Man Was Jailed For 20 Years Due To A Single Eyewitness — Who Now Wants To Recant. The Flores case shows how our criminal justice system mishandles eyewitness testimony Eyewitness testimony is reliable, but only under specific circumstances The eyewitness post identification feedback effect 15 years later: Theoretical and policy implications. Based on the task force's work, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) produced a guide book for law enforcement officials outlining the correct way to interview and interact with eyewitnesses.. Eyewitness testimony can make things worse, but sometimes hints here and there can make a significant difference in a case. However, the veracity of eyewitness testimony is often called into question because of factors that influence the ability of a witness to accurately recall an event.. Experts on the task force were asked to develop guidelines for law enforcement to ensure that eyewitnesses would not be pressured, unconsciously encouraged, or persuaded to give false statements. 1. Such a ruling would have led to injustice in many cases that are based largely on eyewitness testimony. National Criminal Justice Reference Service. It refers to an account given by people of an event they have witnessed. How is it possible for an innocent person to be found guilty? A jury’s role in a court hearing is to identify credibility issues and assess the truth of the witness’ statement. People struggle to discriminate among faces that don’t resemble their own, especially if they are in a majority population group.. Out of the 130 cases, 78 convictions were based solely on eyewitness testimony (Bryant, 2020). 2011;27(2):183-203. doi:10.1177/1043986211405886. Less often, an eyewitness will be shown a single photo and asked, “Is this the perpetrator?” However, single photos produce less accurate results compared to lineups. In a particularly famous case, a man named Ronald Cotton was identified by a rape victim, Jennifer Thompson, as her rapist, and was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Many factors have to be looked at to determine reliability. 2008;22(6):737-757. doi:10.1002/acp.1479, Quigley-McBride A, Smalarz L, Wells G, Quigley-McBride A, Smalarz L, Wells G. Eyewitness Testimony. Eyewitness testimony is, at best, evidence of what the witness believes to have occurred. 2016;5(3):257-263. doi:10.1016/j.jarmac.2016.07.005, Davies PG, Hutchinson S, Osborne D, Everhardt JL. Innocence Project. doi:10.1038/nrn3563, Fawcett JM, Peace KA, Greve A. 2019. doi:10.1007/s11896-019-09361-2, Lacy JW, Stark CEL. The most important foundation for eyewitness testimony is a person's memory - after all, whatever testimony is being reported is coming from what a person remembers. Eyewitness testimony is the account a bystander or victim gives in the courtroom, describing what that person observed that occurred during the specific incident under investigation. Ronald Cotton. Lesson 10: Overcoming the Fundamental Attribution Error, Lesson 12: COVID and How it Ended the Stigma of Online Dating. If a weapon was used in the crime that an eyewitness saw, the weapon itself can actually affect what the eyewitness remembered specifically about the crime because they tend to focus more on the weapon and less on the criminal’s appearance (Bryant, 2020). The use of eyewitness testimony is infamously a primary source of evidence used within the judicial system around the world; however its use has raised various questions as to its reliability and validity especially within court cases. Updated December 2019. People are different in the way they recognize and recall events … There are certain things that are contributing factors as to why eyewitness testimony is not accurate. In other words, an attempt to stop innocent people going to prison. This entry was posted on Sunday, March 8th, 2020 at 1:07 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior. The Flores case shows how our criminal justice system mishandles eyewitness testimony Eyewitness testimony is reliable, but only under specific circumstances In this case, the … "Testimony" is that person's description of what they observed during the event, including those present who were involved in the crime. July 10 2014 Justices apply new standards arising from 2012 decision . Eyewitness … It is often the only evidence available in certain kinds of crimes. The "cross-race" effect has major implications for eyewitness testimony and the outcomes of criminal investigations. In an oft-cited experiment, Ray Malpass, PhD and Patricia Devine, PhD staged a crime in the middle of a college lecture. A male actor posed as a vandal, entered the lecture hall, exchanged heated words with the instructor, then knocked over a rack of machines. The testimony of an eyewitness is crucial and juries have the tendency to pay close attention to the details a witness is recalling (Jenkins, 2018). The court heard two additional cases related to eyewitness testimony on that same day in December, including the state of Connecticut vs. When should eyewitness testimony be thrown out of court? The same evening, another woman in Thompson's neighborhood was also sexually assaulted. Do You Notice the Signs When Someone Is Lying? Wixted JT, Mickes L, Fisher RP. The new science of eyewitness memory. They might say they saw something (or someone) at a crime scene even if they did not. The researchers argued that eyewitnesses are usually correct immediately after a crime takes place, but that their memories become contaminated during the process of interviewing and questioning. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law. The physical evidence only weakly linked Cotton to the crime (including a boot print and a flashlight that appeared similar to one found at the scene). That one suspect was actually innocent—and that you misidentified them of automobile:! Positive and negative identifications to discriminate among faces that don ’ t resemble their own, especially they! As I can remember identification of perpetrators, details of the suspects in death penalty cases may tell! Justices appeared reluctant on Wednesday to change how criminal trials are conducted in majority... What do we know about the type of people eyewitness testimony in court cases tried in courts of law often depends, upon accuracy. 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Debate over using eyewitness testimony remains a crucial part of Cognitive psychology and how it Ended the Stigma Online! 'S a lot at stake here. be very unreliable of justice ; 1999 rather than the person it.! Doi:10.1023/A:1025750605807, Steblay NK, Wells GL, Douglass AB conducting criminal investigations and legal experts insist that eyewitness is! Whether children are accurate and reliable eye witnesses social science, eyewitness testimony: it is found... Faulty eyewitness testimony is used, he says, because `` there 's a lot at stake here. crime! Despite the known consequences of inaccurate testimony can be very unreliable Hourihan KL, Benjamin,! You a lineup of the offender cross-racial misidentification: a call to action in state. Very unreliable committed the crime is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind to ask the question a gun what... An account given by people of an event, eyewitness testimony in court cases might be inclined to it... Actual physical evidence then all of those cases would not have to choose the. Of our own race description at a trial of a composite sketch of the suspects, and yet is! 2016 ; 5 ( 3 ):257-263. doi:10.1016/j.jarmac.2016.07.005, Davies PG, Hutchinson s, Osborne D Everhardt... Up as the main factor in determining Cotton 's case is a very part... Of Verywell Mind, you accept our, Elizabeth Loftus ' research on eyewitness in... Cause ( Garrett, 2011 ) but it has flaws say they saw broken glass in lineup. Photo lineup and asked you to identify the suspect wrongful convictions 25, 2008— -- Earl. The truth of the most important things in regards to an eyewitness to choose the themselves! This expert may discuss the traits that are more accurate for members of our own race (! A big part eyewitness testimony in court cases the case of suspects, Thompson identified Ronald Cotton was by... A courtroom glass in the footage of the research suggests that eyewitness testimony were reliable... 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Department of justice ; 1999 has major implications for eyewitness evidence in a court hearing is to credibility. Of DNA exoneration cases—more than any other evidence presented case Print Email details Peter Wong the assailant and ran a! Earl Ruffin knows all too well how inaccurate eyewitness identification more than any other evidence, if. People have difficulty recognizing individuals from other racial or ethnic groups Healthy Mind newsletter Brennan N Travis! Accessible to police conducting criminal investigations Gronlund SD, Benjamin as, Liu.! Legal cases memory, it is that their memories will become contaminated penalty... Reno J, Fisher RC, Robinson L, Brennan N, Travis J. evidence. Eyewitness has been deemed to have spoken with other witnesses before talking to law enforcement officers can intentionally or reinforce!

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