Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), 60 Minutes put out an interview piece about Jennifer Thompson and Ronald Cotton and attempted to show how eyewitness testimony is flawed. Thompson was the victim and survivor of a rape and Cotton was the accused. Cotton served nearly 11 years before his exoneration, the eyewitness conviction deemed flawed. However, not flawed eyewitness testimony only convicted Cotton but the power of suggestion, finger pointing, and some unconscientious persuasion as well.
Unless observed from the onset of the investigation, studies show that the confidence level of the witness has a “poor relationship” with the accuracy of the identification (Stenzel 2017). Because memory can be easily altered and misleading, high levels of confidence do not indicate that the witness has correctly identified the suspect (Stenzel 2017). Initially, Thompson-Cannino identified Cotton, saying, “I think this is him,” but by the time she got to her second round of identifications, she said “Bingo! I did it right!” (Stenzel 2017). Studies show that confidence in the witness’ confidence in their memory increases with time (Hughes 2014). However, there is usually an extended period of time between when the crime took place and the trial, and therefore, the witness’ confidence statement should be given little to no weight in the
It is evident that eyewitness identification cannot always be trusted. Under times of distress, you may not have a clear observation of the suspect. DNA evidence has now been another factor in finding evidence in
Many news stories, reports, and books fairly describe wrongful convictions in detail, although not all of these wrongful convictions resulted in formal exonerations. Most witness misidentifications were made in good faith with the witness attempting to help officials find the real perpetrator of a crime, although this explanation does not examine the conditions under which these identifications were made. Some of the conditions that need to be taken into account are whether a photo was shown to a victim by the police before a lineup, whether the identification by the witness was hesitant, or if the victim was urged to be positive when testifying. Additionally, was the identification from the same race; was there prejudice, how much distance and duration of interaction was there between victim and suspect prior to identification and what were the viewing conditions; darkness or day light? With so many factors involved, it should be obvious to some why eye-witness misidentification can happen so frequently. Moreover, the testimony of an eyewitness relies on how accurate their memory of an event actually is. Eyewitness misidentification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful convictions proven by DNA testing, playing a role in more than 70% of convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide (“Eyewitness Misidentification,”
An absurd amount of innocent people in the nation, have fallen victim to a disorganized legal system, and are suffering because of it. Dennis Brown, and James Harden, are two examples of this, and can relate because of it. They’ve been falsely convicted, without DNA evidence, but the truth of the case is finally revealed with their release.
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,
Why have more than two-thousand people exonerated for crimes they didn’t commit? Eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the U.S. Memory can be influenced by anxiety, stress, reconstructive memory and other factors possibly affecting the testimony of the eyewitness and in turn, misleading the jury. I think that when subjects witness a crime they will struggle to remember important details of the event, and their recollection could be easily altered. This is because the reconstructive memory can be influenced by factors such as stress, anxiety, and verbal cues.
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).
She “studied every detail on the rapist’s face. [She] looked at his hairline; [she] looked for scars, for tattoos, for anything that would help [her] identify him” (New York Times). She put so much effort to stay conscious and study this much detail of her attacker, yet when Bobby Poole stood in front of her in the courthouse, she did not recognize him claiming “that she’s never seen that man before in her life”. This shows that there are other contributing factors that could lead a witness to misidentify an attacker and that even the “best” eyewitnesses are not perfect. Thompson shared the statistic that eyewitness error is the leading cause of wrongful convictions in America. This supports her argument by claiming that she is not the only case of misidentification. Errors like this occur in trial and investigation considerably often. Thompson brings up another case in Texas where there is another man on death row because of a flimsy eyewitness identification. This goes to show that eyewitness misidentifications can have heavy consequences to the wrongfully convicted as well as how common misidentifications are. Overall, Thompson claims that even the most confident witnesses can be
Having to identify a suspect involved in an active rape crime and fleeing the scene would be challenging. It is many factors that come into play in this scenario. The number of people involved is your first determination. If more than two people are at the scene, you have to figure out if there are two suspects or two victims. How much time I had to view the crime and was it during the day or night to select the correct suspect. When a suspect has unique features such as visible tattoos, scars or hairstyles, it can make the lineup process a little easier. I selected suspect number three who participated in a simultaneous lineup, where all people are presented at the same time. My choice was incorrect due to the fact that the suspect was not
Before Givens stopped Mr. Crowder, he verified Mr. Crowder and the blue truck, like the officer in White verified the suspect and the vehicle. Even though Officer Givens thought the pickup was black at first, Givens had known Crowder long enough that Givens most likely could correctly identify him ─ even at night. But, these facts could be considered mundane, like the facts corroborated concerning the defendant’s identity and car in Kennison. But, like the officer in White, Givens also corroborated the destination, and the presence of the third-party (the semi) the anonymous caller mentioned before the stop occurred. At this point, Givens had reasonable
In the article “Lineup Procedure in Criminal Cases,” Paul Bergman is informing us on the ins and outs of criminal lineups. He states that lineups are not a more accurate way of an identification than showups or photo identification. Studies show witnesses are not more likely to accurately identify a suspect in a lineup than any other pretrial identification procedure. During a lineup, a prosecutor is usually present along with police officers. Attorneys can also be there representing the suspect that was charged with a crime. Others may attend the lineup such as an investigator, paralegal, a law clerk or other observers to act as a witness if the lineup was unfair to the defendant. Police officers will try to convince suspects to voluntarily
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
Each line-up procedure affects the decisions of eyewitnesses. The show-up method is the least effective at correctly identifying suspects. They present suspects to witnesses, whilst in police custody. In addition, the time taken can drastically increase the rate of misidentifications. Therefore, they are not how eyewitness testimonies should be conducted. In the simultaneous line-up, witnesses overestimate their ability to make an identification, resulting in misidentifications. This is due the nature of judgements, promoted by the simultaneous line-up, relative
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).