Courts look for inconsistencies between witnesses. Minor differences such as times, distances, speed, have a limited effect on reliability and can enhance, rather than detract from the credibility of a witness as too much similarity can suggest collusion between
Thorndike, E. L. (1898). Animal intelligence: An experimental study of the associative processes in animals. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 2(4), i-109.
Eyewitness misidentification is a major problem that has an effect on adequate policing. One major goal and priority of law enforcement is justice. They should focus on prosecuting the correct person because if they are prosecuting the wrong person they are ruining an innocent persons life and justice is not being served. Many problems can arise from misidentification. It often leads to an innocent persons rights being infringed on. There are many dangers to misidentification and many causes for misidentification occurring.
Her earliest studies of eyewitness testimony addressed several issues: when someone sees a crime or accident, how accurate is his or her memory? These studies led Loftus to ask what happens when witness are questioned by police officers, and what if those questions are suggestive (Loftus, 2003). For instance, when Loftus began showing people films of traffic accidents, she found that a question such as “How fast were the cars going when the smashed into each other?” led to higher estimates of speed than a more neutral question that used the verb “hit”. Moreover, the “smashed” question led more people to falsely remember seeing broken glass when there was none. Her early papers concluded that leading questions could contaminate or distort a witness’s memory (Loftus,
Best-practice identification as mentioned above is approach that allows eyewitness to have the best-unbiased and relaxed atmosphere possible in order to make a positive identification or to positively state that the perpetrator is not among the group being viewed. "Courtroom safeguards are procedural and evidentiary rules designed to attenuate the potentially deleterious impact of unreliable eyewitness identification evidence; they provide a wrongly identified accused a last line of defense against wrongful conviction" (Smith & Dufraimont,
Margaret Kovera, a leading authority in the research of lineup administrations, there are several verbal cues and non-verbal cues that can influence a witness’s decision making with regards to a suspect identification. As Dr. Margaret Kovera has a social psychology background, her research focuses more on the social interactions in lineups as opposed to the usual cognitive approach to studying eyewitness identification. In Dr. Kovera’s interview she discusses what is referred to as the experimenter expectancy effect whereby experimenters may behave in such a manner that influences the behaviours of the participants in a study to fit the hypothesis of the experimenter. This premise correlates with Dr. Garry Wells view of lineups being experiments and when conducting a lineup, we should aim to protect suspects against mistaken identifications by trying to minimize or eliminate the types of biases that we try to remove when we are conducting scientific experiments. As Dr. Margaret Kovera exemplifies in her interview, one of the biggest issues in lineup procedures that result in false identifications is the various sources of contamination introduced to the witness by the lineup administrator, which ultimately parallels with the experimenter expectancy effect. Sources of contamination can include steering behaviours conducted by the administrator such as tapping photos, asking questions such as “Are you sure?” or “look again”; really
Misidentification by the eyewitnesses and the police officers are current problems in the justice system. Suspects are identified by the eyewitnesses of the crime, but this can lead to some problems with who is identified. More than 75% of cases that have used DNA to exonerate have involved misidentification by the eyewitnesses (“Credible Eyewitnesses”). This proves that eyewitnesses are not reliable sources in a trial. According to the article “Credible Eyewitnesses”,
The Innocence Project lists six primary causes of wrongful convictions exonerated by DNA evidence. The causes are eyewitness misidentification, unvalidated or improper forensic science, false confessions or admissions, government misconduct, informants, and inadequate defense. The leading cause of wrongful convictions proven by DNA evidence is eyewitness misidentification. Eyewitness misidentification was a factor in more than 70% of convictions whose rulings were reversed due to DNA testing nationwide. Throughout history, the reliability of eyewitness identification has been questioned. In 1907, Hugo Mustenberg examined the reliability of eyewitness identification in his book, “On the Witness Stand”. In a study of 65 wrongful convictions completed
The description of the Lockerbie bombing may provide image on how lengthy and complicated an investigation and a trial process could be. Eyewitness would have to go through repeated interviews. The purpose of this procedure is to assess the consistency and accuracy of the testimony. Unfortunately, it is often not realized that repeated interview may also have a negative effect on the quality of the testimony given. A study by Sharps, Herrera, Dunn, and Alcala investigated the effect of repeated questioning in the format based of police procedure (2012).
At that precise moment, I know for a fact that I will tell the truth because that is my character and what I believe in. Nonetheless, a sudden fear crosses my mind; the doubt that I will not remember what I witnessed frightens me. Although it has never happened before, at every new trial, I am troubled about the thought that I will not recall exactly what happened during the situation that brought me to trial. Moreover, I believe that the offender that is on trial can easily withhold the truth about their part in the situation. As police officers, we have body cameras that record what we say and what we do during our course of duty; therefore, to see an offender falsely state what happened, sickens me. We swear to God to tell the truth and to not do just that is not appropriate.
It’s not easy to reconstruct your memory and we always rely on our knowledge and attitudes to fill in the gaps. Eyewitness can be right but not always. In Zimmerman trial the witnesses were saying something totally different and it’s really hard to know which one is right. Although they saw the same thing they explained it differently. One witness said she saw two people and then the second time she said she only saw one person that explains to us that we can’t always rely on eyewitness. The innocence project has proposed to legislation to improve the accuracy of eyewitness ID’s. These proposals include recording the proof of identity technique so that the juries can regulate if it was accompanied properly, putting characters in the lineup
Context consists of such factors as emotion and environment, and it is necessary to recreate those factors in order to access the memory that has been naturally primed to be recalled in reference to them (Cutler, Penrod, Martens, 629). Thus, when addressing these identification errors made by eyewitnesses and when trying to fix them it is essential that the officials involved in the criminal justice system who are questioning the witnesses “reinstate the context surrounding an event” (Cutler, Penrod, & Martens, 629). In other words, eyewitness identification errors need to be fixed, as well as discrepancies of reliability and accuracy within a jury and among the jury members. Furthermore, authors Kovera and Borgida discuss how social psychologists are not allowed in the courtrooms even though that would be very beneficial as they can share the knowledge of these phenomena that can often lead to injustices (1376). Perhaps the first step to more forcefully addressing and working on these influential estimator and system variables as well as jury biases will be to change that rule. But for now the most important part is that the realization of these social psychological concepts becomes widespread enough so that it becomes second natural to be aware of any biases or misjudgments occurring as a result of them. In other words, there are many issues and errors that occur within the legal system due to these social psychological aspects, and they thus must be more widely acknowledged, addressed, and fixed for they have the power to change a verdict and thus possibly ruin a life if a suspect is falsely convicted as a
The investigative tool of offender profiling has been the subject of vigorous debate among investigative officials and academics for decades. Primarily, criticisms of the practice concern the lack of empirical evidence indicating the homology of crime scene actions and offender characteristics. However, the authors of this study, Goodwill, Lehmann, Beauregard and Andrei (2014), argue that this is attributable to a failure to analyse offender actions in the context of a dynamic decision making process. Therefore, this study attempts to answer the question of whether investigators can accurately infer characteristics of offenders based on crime scene actions, by identifying temporal
Furthermore, there can be several factors at play when a wrongful conviction occurs and each case is unique. Three of the more common and detrimental factors that will be explored in this essay are eyewitness error, the use of jailhouse informants and professional and institutional misconduct. Firstly, eyewitness testimony can be a major contributor to a conviction and is an important factor in wrongful conviction (Campbell & Denov, 2016, p. 227). Witness recall and, frankly, the human emory are not as reliable as previously thought. In fact there has been much research showing the problems with eyewitness testimony such as suggestive police interviewing, unconscious transference, and malleability of confidence (Campbell & Denov, 2016, p.227). All of these components lead to eyewitness error and essentially false incrimination. Secondly, another factor that can contribute to wrongful conviction is the use of jailhouse informants. Campbell & Denov (2016), describe jailhouse informants as prisoner informants that “provide information to law enforcement officials in exchange for money, property, or the promise of leniency in sentencing” (p. 229). This can be problematic because jurors place value on the
Eye witness identification involves selecting an accused perpetrator from a police line up, sketch or being at the crime scene during the murder time. After selecting a suspect, witnesses are asked to make a formal statement confirming the ID of the suspect (s) or other surrounding details which the eyewitness can testify in court. Eyewitnesses are always required to testify in court but eyewitnesses with psychological disorders, substance dependancy are at a higher chance of identifying the wrong suspect therefore wrongfully assisting convict the perpetrator in the wrong (Hal Arkowitz, Scott O. Lilienfeld, January 1, 2010).