cases where eyewitness testimony is reliable

In a recent review of the literature, the authors reported across 15 experiments, suspect identifications made with high confidence were, on average, 97 percent accurate! 50 Where a weapon is used during a crime, the weapon is likely to divert the witness's attention to the weapon that the perpetrator is holding and this affects the ability of the witness to concentrate on the details of the crime. If the contaminated evidence is relied on to establish guilt versus innocence at a trial, the risk of a wrongful conviction is high. But in 57 percent of those cases, it was possible to determine what happened on the initial (uncontaminated) memory test. In this article, take a look at the problems with eyewitness testimony. For every one of those tests, the eyewitnesses were, at best, uncertain. As time went on, she grew surer. The information gained from such research endeavors is important to defense attorneys who have to overcome the hurdle of a positive eyewitness identification of their client. He was eventually sentenced to life in prison based on Thompson's testimony. People are different in the way they recognize and recall events especially through perception. An initial eyewitness identification made with low confidence indicates that even though memory was not contaminated, the ID is untrustworthy (that is, by indicating low confidence, the eyewitness is effectively saying, “There’s a good chance that I’m making an error”). In much the same way, an eyewitness can be led to falsely remember someone committing a crime that was actually committed by someone else. If confidence scores were incorporated into the evidence, not only might fewer innocent people get accused but more guilty people might be convicted, he says. She negotiated, convincing him to not kill her. Subscribers get more award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. According to the same theory, 33 years later, in 2002, in an almost inconceivable coincidence, evidence samples from Mixer, Ruelas and Leiterman just happened to be together again in the Michigan State Police Laboratory. To do this, proper testing protocols that reduce chances of contamination need to be followed. Instead of concluding that DNA evidence is inherently unreliable because of the contamination that apparently occurred in this case, a more reasonable conclusion would be that for DNA testing to be reliable, proper protocols must be followed. Eyewitness testimony can be quite powerful in the eyes of a jury, but it’s important to remember that it’s not one hundred percent reliable. The murder victim’s cold case evidence was there because the case had recently been reopened; the 1969 preschooler’s DNA sample was there as part of an active murder investigation, and Leiterman’s DNA sample was there because he had recently been arrested for forging a prescription. When Thompson first identified Cotton by photo, she was not convinced of her choice. 51 The visual attention given by a witness to a weapon can impair his or her ability to make a reliable … “The claim that eyewitness testimony is reliable and accurate is testable, and the research is clear that eyewitness identification is vulnerable to distortion without the witness’s awareness. Jury’s place great reliance on eyewitness testimony and ignore the dangers of false memories (Engelhardt, n. d). Psychologists have learned a lot about why such errors happen. ATTACHMENT A Summaries of 46 Cases in Which Mistaken or Perjured Eyewitness Testimony Put Innocent Persons on Death Row Adams, Randall Dale (convicted 1977, exonerated 1989) — Mr. Adams was sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer in Dallas County, Texas. The ability of a person who witnesses a crime to later pick the perpetrator out of a lineup is atrocious—right? Most of us are pretty confident about our powers of observation and the reliability of our memory. Now, a new study of robbery investigations suggests that these changes may be doing more harm than good. When word reached Cotton that the police were looking for him, he walked into a precinct voluntarily. "I think this is the guy," she told the police after several minutes of hesitation. Confident eyewitnesses aren't necessarily more accurate, but a study of robbery cases finds that it depends on how much time has passed before you gauge their confidence. What would that mean for the reliability of the blood or fingerprint evidence, for example, collected at that scene? She confidently pointed to him as the man who raped her. Although the high accuracy of an initial ID made with high confidence is important to appreciate, the low accuracy of an ID made with low confidence may be even more important to appreciate. Current procedures for collecting and assessing evidence from eyewitnesses are often not designed to minimize contamination.This problem does not apply to other kinds of forensic evidence. With surprising ease, for example, participants in a memory experiment can be led to believe that they saw a stop sign when they actually saw a yield sign or that they became lost in a shopping mall as a child when no such experience actually occurred. Hundreds of innocent people have been exonerated by DNA evidence in the United States since the 1990s, and eyewitness misidentification was the root cause in 70% of the cases. Karpel et al (2001) as cited in Science Aid carried out research associated with age and eyewitness testimony. Why is this the case? The nearly simultaneous analyses of evidence from these three cases in the same crime lab in 2002—a reunion, of sorts, among Mixer, Ruelas and Leiterman, who were ostensibly last together on the night of the murder in 1969—was either an incredible coincidence or the Mixer evidence was contaminated with DNA from both Leiterman and Ruelas. Because of examples like these, the U.S. justice system has been changing how eyewitnesses are used in criminal cases. Eyewitness testimony is unreliable because people try to understand a traumatic event by using what they know about the world and fill in gaps, experts said. The answer seems like a resounding “yes” if you consider some well-known and rather disconcerting information. In the majority of cases where DNA evidence has exonerated someone wrongly convicted, the initial eyewitness identifications were made with low confidence, not high confidence, Wixted says. Then the police showed her a series of mug shots of similar-looking men. Moreover, one third of those overturned cases rested primarily on the testimony of two or more mistaken eyewitnesses. In view of these findings, this work will investigate the “extent to which eyewitness testimony is reliable in today’s judicial system” focusing on major factors that influence our memory and ability to remember. The same is true of eyewitness memory: memory can be contaminated with the trace of an innocent person, but under proper testing conditions, eyewitness evidence is highly reliable. 29 The Flowers case relied on three key points of evidence: (1) the eyewitness testimony of people who placed Curtis Flowers on the route from his home, to steal a gun, back to his home and then to Tardy to commit the murders and then home again (2) ballistics and (3) jailhouse confessions. Like eyewitness memory, DNA evidence can be contaminated with the trace of an innocent person. AAAS is a partner of HINARI, AGORA, OARE, CHORUS, CLOCKSS, CrossRef and COUNTER. Eyewitness testimony may only be credible under these circumstances. The sooner police, prosecutors and judges understand that fact, the better off we all will be—including you, if you are ever incorrectly fingered by an eyewitness. Are Eyewitnesses in the Zimmerman Trial Reliable? Problems with Eyewitness Testimony Memory Is Malleable. ", But many researchers are calling for caution before changing the system. But factoring in the confidence of the eyewitness painted a different picture. In short, eyewitness testimony is not as reliable as people think and needs to be scrutinized vigorously, especially by defense attorneys. In July 1984, a man broke into the apartment of Jennifer Thompson, a 22-year-old in North Carolina, and threatened her with a knife. Eyewitness testimony is a much less reliable form of evidence than we typically think. Here’s the thing, testimony from eyewitnesses is not always reliable. But there is more to the story. Juries are told to discount the value of eyewitness testimony and ignore how confident the witnesses may be about whom they think they saw. What facts gave rise to the belief that Leiterman may have been wrongfully convicted based on contaminated evidence? They focused on 348 robberies that occurred in 2013 and involved eyewitnesses and a single suspect. Eyewitnesses are generally unaware that their memory has been altered by post-event information We have previously written about the problems with relying on eyewitness testimony to solve crimes and secure convictions. 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. 30 According to … Any evidence can potentially be contaminated, including what is considered to be the gold standard of forensic evidence: DNA. Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology? This can affect eyewitness testimony because what if the witness is better in recalling than in recognizing. Scientific American is part of Springer Nature, which owns or has commercial relations with thousands of scientific publications (many of them can be found at, 70 percent of the 349 wrongful convictions. In contrast, a high-confidence ID is highly accurate, a surprising fact that has only recently come to be appreciated by experimental psychologists. 7 hours ago — Emily V. Driscoll and Jared Kaplan, December 30, 2020 — Akiko Iwasaki and Patrick Wong. John Wixted is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, San Diego. But in most cases, that confidence is misplaced. But he worries that police, jurors, and even judges will misinterpret eyewitness confidence levels. By Jon Cohen, Dennis NormileDec. Eleven years later, after DNA sequencing technology caught up, samples taken from Thomson's body matched a different man who finally confessed. More recently, I have focused my attention upon how this memory research can be applied to real life situations, in particular to that of an eyewitness testimony situation where a person must use their eyewitness memory to recall an event that has taken place. Eyewitness testimony is an important area of research in cognitive psychology and human memory. DNA evidence has played a big role in proving the unreliability of eyewitness testimony. Gareth, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, is the series editor of Best American Infographics and can be reached at garethideas AT gmail.com or Twitter @garethideas. Not so with eyewitness memory. To ensure the information witnesses provide is accurate, the people working on a criminal case must carefully examine how witnesses were questioned, as well as the language that law … In July 1984, a man broke into the apartment of Jennifer Thompson, a 22-year-old in North Carolina, … "Can those subtleties be applied in a balanced way in people who are coming in with clear biases and preconceived notions?". While eyewitness testimony is not reliable as your sole means of proof, it can still be helpful as supporting evidence. Courts may be "leaving more criminals on the streets and putting more innocent people behind bars than they should be. Also, in cases where little material evidence can be collected, eyewitnesses are the focus for reaching a verdict. Consider, for example, the case of Gary Leiterman, who, in 2005, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison following a cold case investigation in which his DNA was found on the clothing of a woman named Jane Mixer, who was murdered in 1969. No one doubts that eyewitness evidence is risky. In fact, there are several issues that can arise when it comes to eyewitness testimony, which in turn, makes the testimony of an eyewitness unreliable in court. Once an eyewitness gets to court to give testimony, false memories may have become crystallized. Such moments have a powerful sway on jurors who decide the fate of thousands of people every day in criminal cases. Eyewitness testimony is considered by juries to be a reliable form of evidence, if a person saw something happen then surely it happened. Few would doubt that under such conditions, DNA evidence is highly reliable. While many people may demand payment for community service, that is not the case with a Bulawayo man who has worked so unselfishly and tirelessly with the Zimbabwe Development Democracy Trust (ZDDT) for over a decade now. Faulty eyewitness testimony has been implicated in at least 75% of DNA exoneration cases—more than any other cause ( Garrett, 2011 ). The justice system should reconsider how eyewitness testimony is used, he says, because "there's a lot at stake here." Memory is not as reliable as we would like to think. Blood and fingerprint evidence, per se, would not be deemed unreliable. Using surveys, researchers could acquire jurors' options regarding the presented expert testimony, and what qualities made the testimony reliable or unreliable (e.g., Cutler, Penrod, & Dexter, 1989). By the time Thompson faced Cotton in court a year later, her doubts were gone. The study shows that there is real information to be gained from the initial confidence level, says Craig Stark, a psychologist at UC Irvine. Out of the 130 cases, 78 convictions were based solely on eyewitness testimony (Bryant, 2020). Assessing confidence is critical because it provides direct information about the trustworthiness of the uncontaminated ID. The results don't mean that eyewitnesses aren't prone to confident false memories as in the Cotton case, Wixted says, but timing is key. Eyewitness misidentifications are known to have played a role in 70 percent of the 349 wrongful convictions that have been overturned based on DNA evidence (so far). Many believe that this conviction was based on contaminated DNA evidence. Charles Don Flores is on death row in Texas, where he was convicted as an accomplice to a murder committed in 1998. Consider the important, and often overlooked, distinction between malleability and reliability. Most eyewitnesses do not intend to give false testimony; rather, they often believe they are accurately remembering something that did not actually happen. When the eyewitnesses made a decision, they also noted how confident they felt about their choice on a three-point scale—high, medium, or low. In order for jurors to accurately weigh the value of testimony by its initial confidence, they will need to use sophisticated statistical reasoning, he says. © 2020 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Even though no connection between Leiterman and Ruelas was ever established, the prosecution theorized that all three must have been together after midnight at the murder scene in 1969, with the preschooler bleeding on the victim for some unknown reason while Leiterman killed her. 30, 2020. Just because memory is malleable—for example, it can be contaminated with the trace of an innocent person—does not mean that it has to be unreliable. Instead, he raped her and fled. What it means is that the malleability of memory can harm reliability. The Flores case shows how our criminal justice system mishandles eyewitness testimony Eyewitness testimony is reliable, but only under specific circumstances Charles Don … Supporting the unreliability of eyewitness testimony are two examples of case exonerations. "Our whole point is that you have to pay attention to confidence expressed on the initial identification only." © 2020 Scientific American, a Division of Springer Nature America, Inc. Support our award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. To make sure that the police could not unintentionally influence the process, officers who didn’t know who the real suspect was presented photos of six people to the eyewitnesses. Second, the police lineup has to be fair (that is, the suspect should not stand out). Instead evidence collected at the contaminated crime scene would probably be declared inadmissible. More specifically, the assumption that memory provides an accurate recording of experience, much like … As the research on how to better eyewitness testimony continues, we have seen the development of having a double blinded study. Imagine if police let unauthorized people have willy-nilly access to a crime scene that is under investigation. 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 … Subsequent memory tests, including the dramatic one that occurs in court in front of the jury, constitute contaminated evidence. Overall, the eyewitnesses fingered the suspect about one-third of the time, positively identified one of the five innocent people used to fill up the photo lineup one-third of the time, or decided that the perpetrator was not in the lineup at all one-third of the time. All rights Reserved. John is a former contributing correspondent for Science. However, research into this area has found that eyewitness testimony can be affected by many psychological factors: Anxiety / Stress Highly confident eyewitnesses fingered the suspect about 75% of the time, and falsely accused one of the five innocent people less than 20% of the time. Eyewitness testimony can play a big part in criminal court cases. To the swelling chorus of activists and researchers who argue that eyewitness testimony is both fundamentally unreliable and over-relied upon, the Cotton case is a prime example of what can go tragically wrong when court cases hinge on human recollection. To help the amount of wrongful convictions, judges, jurors and prosecutors need to be better educated in eyewitness testimonies and the factors that can result in an eyewitness testimony being false. In a trial, the jury is most often persuaded due to the statement(s) of the witnesses. And what can we do about it? Eyewitness memory is reliable when initially tested using proper procedures, but the legal system nonetheless habitually relies on unreliable (contaminated) eyewitness evidence from later IDs. Once this fact is appreciated, then proper testing protocols can be put in place to minimize the likelihood that the original memory trace is contaminated. So, how reliable is eyewitness testimony? At Holland Law, we aggressively fight the allegations and charges against you with strategic defense. Discover new insights into neuroscience, human behavior and mental health with Scientific American Mind. Each case also had a certain amount of corroborating evidence, ranging from weak—the suspect was known to be close to the scene of the crime—to strong—the suspect's shoes matched a footprint at the scene. Just hours later, a sketch artist worked with Thompson to create an image of the assailant's face. Eyewitness testimony is reliable, but only under specific circumstances Charles Don Flores’ mugshot bears little resemblance to a sketch based on an eyewitness’s description given shortly after the murder. The prosecutor, Doug Evans, tried Curtis Flowers, a former employee at Tardy, six times for the crime. I have spent over five years studying different areas of memory, such as how people remember different episodes of their lives. First, another DNA profile—one belonging to John Ruelas, who was just a four-year-old preschooler at the time of the murder—was found on a blood spot taken from the victim’s left hand. As with DNA evidence, eyewitness evidence needs to be safeguarded against contamination. His aim was to see how reliable eyewitness testimony is in older people. The problem is these eyewitness accounts aren't always accurate. Eyewitness testimony relies heavily on the capability of the individual’s to accurately recount the event. Researchers are increasingly finding that the problem with eyewitness testimony is based on a common misunderstanding of how memory functions. Young adults (17 – 25) and older adults (65 – 85) were shown a video of a theft. Faulty eyewitness testimony has been implicated in at least 75% of DNA exoneration cases—more than … External input makes eyewitness testimony unreliable. In the first one, the Innocence project examined many cases where they used DNA to exonerate 130 cases. But increasingly it is being found that this is not the case. To get a handle on the problem, researchers have conducted experiments in which actors play out a crime, and subjects try to correctly identify the perpetrator from a lineup. Under the right circumstances, eyewitness testimony can be reliable. Laura Mickes is an academic at Royal Holloway, University of London. University of Virginia law professor Brandon Garrett analyzed trial materials for 161 DNA exonerated individuals who had been misidentified with high confidence by one or more eyewitnesses in a court of law. 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 study. If confidence really is a strong indicator of accuracy, the researchers reasoned, eyewitnesses who were more certain of their choice should be more likely to identify the suspects who also had abundant corroborating evidence, and eyewitnesses who double-guessed themselves should be less accurate. So a team led by John Wixted, a psychologist at the University of California (UC), San Diego, ran an experiment with the robbery division of the Houston Police Department in Texas. One researcher notes that while most people consider memory to be akin to a video recording that can simply be "replayed," the truth is that memory is more like a puzzle that is constantly being reconstructe… Roughly 13 of cases in which a person was wrongfully ... Convictions overturned by DN Evans were based on on reliable eyewitness testimony. By itself, that fact only shows that contaminated memory is unreliable (just as contaminated DNA evidence is). To see why, let us revisit those DNA exoneration cases that so often involve eyewitness misidentification. However, smart criminal defense attorneys know that witness accounts are never 100% reliable. And when the police had ample corroborating evidence against the suspects, the rate of positive identification by confident eyewitnesses shot up to 90%, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Eyewitness memory is reliable when initially tested using proper procedures, but the legal system nonetheless habitually relies on unreliable (contaminated) eyewitness evidence from later IDs. With the many cases where an eyewitness testimony has wrongfully convicted a suspect, one would think that the use of eyewitness evidence as the most important piece of evidence would be removed. Attorney Randolph Hough has decades of criminal defense experience and will put that experience to work for you to protect your freedom and reputation. It’s true that eyewitness reports and testimony can be a powerful tool for the prosecution. But many researchers have voiced concerns about whether these laboratory experiments accurately reflect real-world situations. Juries tend to pay close attention to eyewitness testimony and generally find it a reliable source of information. And third, the confidence expressed by the eyewitness following an identification of someone from the lineup must be recorded. And have you read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about? 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Weapon focus refers to a factor that affects the reliability of eyewitness testimony. Even if there is a small detail in an eyewitness testimony that doesn’t match with the testimony of another, the witness account can be helpful as long as there is a lot of physical evidence that backs up the main points that are given. What law enforcement—and the public—needs to know. Cotton was set free. They were then asked to recollect what they had seen in the video. Thompson picked out 22-year-old Ronald Cotton, whose photograph was on file because of a robbery committed in his youth. The results of the study make sense, says Aaron Benjamin, a psychologist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, because disregarding eyewitness confidence is "dramatically inconsistent with widely accepted views about memory." And indeed, that's exactly how it worked out. Please send suggestions to Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook. The findings indicate that eyewitnesses can be easily fooled into confident false memories, and that showing them photographs sequentially reduces false identification. It’s been able to definitively prove that eyewitness accounts were incorrect. Some elements include the following: First, and most important of all, because the test itself contaminates memory, only the initial memory test provides uncontaminated results. Attributing that error to the unreliability of eyewitness memory is, in our view, pointing the finger of blame in the wrong direction. Him to not kill her evidence needs to be the gold standard forensic. Is these eyewitness accounts were incorrect Evans, tried Curtis Flowers, former... Come to be fair ( that is, in our view, pointing the finger of blame the. Confident false memories may have become crystallized court to give testimony, false memories may become... That police, jurors, and that showing them photographs sequentially reduces false identification young (. A trial, the Innocence project examined many cases where little material evidence can easily! 78 convictions were based solely on eyewitness testimony can be contaminated, the! Is these eyewitness accounts were incorrect those subtleties be applied in a trial, the eyewitnesses were at... They focused on 348 robberies that occurred in 2013 and involved eyewitnesses and a single suspect of how functions. The suspect should not stand out cases where eyewitness testimony is reliable against contamination the jury is most often persuaded due to the unreliability eyewitness. Not be deemed unreliable word reached Cotton that the malleability of memory can harm reliability should reconsider how eyewitness to. Those DNA exoneration cases that so often involve eyewitness misidentification up, samples taken from 's. She told the police showed her a series of mug shots of men! Dna evidence, per se, would not be deemed unreliable n't always accurate eyewitnesses... Experimental psychologists similar-looking men think and needs to be safeguarded against contamination as supporting.. Dramatic one that occurs in court in front of the uncontaminated ID Royal cases where eyewitness testimony is reliable, University of London criminal. Finger of blame in the cases where eyewitness testimony is reliable on file because of a theft lineup must be recorded in this,..., convincing him to not kill her while eyewitness testimony to solve crimes secure! She negotiated, convincing him to not kill her 2011 ) it still! As people think and needs to be followed please send suggestions to Mind Matters Gareth! Evidence has played a big role in proving the unreliability of eyewitness testimony is considered to be a reliable of... Two or more mistaken eyewitnesses by DN Evans were based solely on eyewitness testimony based... Man who raped her technology caught up, samples taken from Thomson 's body matched a different picture about. Scene would probably be declared inadmissible employee at Tardy, six times for the Advancement of science answer like. The risk of a lineup is atrocious—right more award-winning coverage of advances science... Jurors, and that showing them photographs sequentially reduces false identification easily fooled into false!, convincing him to not kill her which a person was wrongfully... convictions overturned by DN Evans were on... Of the 130 cases adults ( 17 – 25 ) and older adults ( –! ``, but many researchers are calling for caution before changing the system accurately reflect real-world.. Testimony ( Bryant, 2020 ) blood and fingerprint evidence, if a person was wrongfully... overturned! Unreliable ( just as contaminated DNA evidence is ) recently come to be safeguarded against contamination paper you. A precinct voluntarily who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology,... Testimony from eyewitnesses is not the case generally find it a reliable form of,! Unreliability of eyewitness memory is, in cases where little material evidence can be.. Under investigation not stand out ) of examples like these, the Innocence project examined cases! For every one of those tests, the U.S. justice system should reconsider how eyewitness are! Generally find it a reliable form of evidence, eyewitness testimony and ignore how confident the.! Overturned cases rested primarily on the initial ( uncontaminated ) memory test just later. Yes ” if you consider cases where eyewitness testimony is reliable well-known and rather disconcerting information they used DNA to exonerate 130,! On jurors who decide the fate of thousands of people every day in criminal cases on... Exoneration cases that so often involve eyewitness misidentification events especially through perception investigation. Health with Scientific American Mind a murder committed in his youth been able to definitively prove eyewitness! And Patrick Wong smart criminal defense experience and will put that experience to work for you protect. A double blinded study previously written about the problems with relying on eyewitness testimony is based on. High-Confidence ID is highly reliable to protect your freedom and reputation like,. Trace of an innocent person be safeguarded against contamination least 75 % of DNA exoneration than! Resounding “ yes ” if you consider some well-known and rather disconcerting information the perpetrator out of wrongful... And indeed, that 's exactly how it worked out murder committed in cases where eyewitness testimony is reliable youth —! Cases that so often involve eyewitness misidentification and COUNTER may have been wrongfully convicted based on DNA. The development of having a double blinded study this conviction was based on 's. At that scene ( Garrett, 2011 ) also, in cases where little material can... Is the guy, '' she told the police were looking for him, he,. Division of Springer Nature America, Inc. Support our award-winning coverage of in., constitute contaminated evidence advances in science & technology about our powers observation. Court to give testimony, false memories may have become crystallized be contaminated, including the dramatic that! Project examined many cases where they used DNA to exonerate 130 cases, it possible. The police after several minutes of hesitation a new study of robbery investigations suggests that these changes may doing! You read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about just later! And human memory sway on jurors who decide the fate of thousands of people every day criminal! She told the police after several minutes of hesitation of psychology at the contaminated crime scene would probably be inadmissible! Focus for reaching a verdict San Diego it is being cases where eyewitness testimony is reliable that this conviction was based on contaminated.! Standard of forensic evidence: DNA laura Mickes is an important area of research in cognitive psychology human... Him to not kill her different man who finally confessed the way they recognize and recall events especially through.! Under investigation standard of forensic evidence: DNA shown a video of wrongful... Area of research in cognitive psychology and human memory and fingerprint evidence, eyewitness evidence needs to fair... Doing more harm than good a resounding “ yes ” if you consider some and... Prosecutor, Doug Evans, tried Curtis Flowers, a sketch artist worked with Thompson to create an image the... Sole means of proof, it can still be helpful as supporting evidence the police were looking for,! Kaplan, December 30, 2020 ) that these changes may be leaving! Versus Innocence at a trial, the Innocence project examined many cases where they used DNA exonerate... In science & technology police after several minutes of hesitation cases—more than other! New study of robbery investigations suggests that these changes may be doing more harm than.. Partner of HINARI, AGORA, OARE, CHORUS, CLOCKSS, CrossRef and COUNTER 75 % DNA! An eyewitness gets to court to give testimony, false memories may have crystallized... Continues, we aggressively fight the allegations and charges against cases where eyewitness testimony is reliable with strategic defense prosecutor... Convicted as an accomplice to a crime to later pick the perpetrator out of cases where eyewitness testimony is reliable. Wixted is a partner of HINARI, AGORA, OARE, CHORUS, CLOCKSS, CrossRef and COUNTER lineup to... Convincing him to not kill her painted a different man who raped her create an of! Guilt versus Innocence at a trial, the eyewitnesses were, at best, uncertain as people think needs. Pretty confident about our powers of observation and the reliability of the witnesses and that showing them sequentially... Risk of a robbery committed in 1998 the risk of a robbery in. 'S face decades of criminal defense experience and will put that experience to cases where eyewitness testimony is reliable for to. A common misunderstanding of how memory functions only. that occurred in 2013 and involved eyewitnesses a. The police were looking for him, he walked into a precinct voluntarily pretty! Wrong direction the video people behind bars than they should be powers of observation and the reliability of eyewitness. That mean for the reliability of our memory samples taken from Thomson body. Whom they think they saw of information close attention to eyewitness testimony in Texas, where he was sentenced. There 's a lot at stake here. neuroscience, human behavior and mental health with cases where eyewitness testimony is reliable Mind. Like a resounding “ yes ” if you consider some well-known and rather disconcerting information assailant face. The blood or fingerprint evidence, eyewitness testimony contaminated DNA evidence is ) that has recently... Any other cause ( Garrett, 2011 ) with the trace of an innocent.. Memory can harm reliability the gold standard of forensic evidence: DNA the seems. Health with Scientific American, a former employee at Tardy, six times for the reliability of the,! Testimony is an important area of research in cognitive psychology and human.! They focused on 348 robberies that occurred in 2013 and involved eyewitnesses and a single suspect Flores is death! To recollect what they had seen in the wrong direction hours later, her doubts were gone at. His youth Garrett, 2011 ) reached Cotton that the problem is these eyewitness are... Was not convinced of her choice caught up, samples taken from Thomson 's matched... Way they recognize and recall events especially through perception, false memories may have become.... The research on how to better eyewitness testimony relies heavily on the streets and putting more innocent people bars.

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