cases where eyewitness testimony is reliable

And have you read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about? His aim was to see how reliable eyewitness testimony is in older people. The Flores case shows how our criminal justice system mishandles eyewitness testimony Eyewitness testimony is reliable, but only under specific circumstances Charles Don … 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. She negotiated, convincing him to not kill her. The ability of a person who witnesses a crime to later pick the perpetrator out of a lineup is atrocious—right? Problems with Eyewitness Testimony Memory Is Malleable. 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. Memory is not as reliable as we would like to think. Courts may be "leaving more criminals on the streets and putting more innocent people behind bars than they should be. 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. "I think this is the guy," she told the police after several minutes of hesitation. 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. Eyewitness testimony is a much less reliable form of evidence than we typically think. Most of us are pretty confident about our powers of observation and the reliability of our memory. 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. So, how reliable is eyewitness testimony? However, smart criminal defense attorneys know that witness accounts are never 100% reliable. Weapon focus refers to a factor that affects the reliability of eyewitness testimony. Like eyewitness memory, DNA evidence can be contaminated with the trace of an innocent person. Discover new insights into neuroscience, human behavior and mental health with Scientific American Mind. 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. To do this, proper testing protocols that reduce chances of contamination need to be followed. Cotton was set free. Under the right circumstances, eyewitness testimony can be reliable. John is a former contributing correspondent for Science. But he worries that police, jurors, and even judges will misinterpret eyewitness confidence levels. 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. In the first one, the Innocence project examined many cases where they used DNA to exonerate 130 cases. And third, the confidence expressed by the eyewitness following an identification of someone from the lineup must be recorded. But in 57 percent of those cases, it was possible to determine what happened on the initial (uncontaminated) memory test. People are different in the way they recognize and recall events especially through perception. 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). It’s true that eyewitness reports and testimony can be a powerful tool for the prosecution. As with DNA evidence, eyewitness evidence needs to be safeguarded against contamination. What it means is that the malleability of memory can harm reliability. By the time Thompson faced Cotton in court a year later, her doubts were gone. Blood and fingerprint evidence, per se, would not be deemed unreliable. Also, in cases where little material evidence can be collected, eyewitnesses are the focus for reaching a verdict. 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. As the research on how to better eyewitness testimony continues, we have seen the development of having a double blinded study. 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. Subsequent memory tests, including the dramatic one that occurs in court in front of the jury, constitute contaminated evidence. Subscribers get more award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. © 2020 American Association for the Advancement of Science. 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. 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. 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. Young adults (17 – 25) and older adults (65 – 85) were shown a video of a theft. 7 hours ago — Emily V. Driscoll and Jared Kaplan, December 30, 2020 — Akiko Iwasaki and Patrick Wong. Now, a new study of robbery investigations suggests that these changes may be doing more harm than good. Jury’s place great reliance on eyewitness testimony and ignore the dangers of false memories (Engelhardt, n. d). 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. If the contaminated evidence is relied on to establish guilt versus innocence at a trial, the risk of a wrongful conviction is high. 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. Reduce chances of contamination need to be fair ( that is under investigation prove that eyewitness were..., where he was convicted as an accomplice to a crime scene that under... Where little material evidence can be collected, eyewitnesses are used in cases... 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