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,
"The state has not produced one iota of medical evidence to the effect that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place. It has relied instead upon the testimony of two witnesses who evidence has not only been called into serious question on cross-examination, but has been flatly contradicted by the defendant. The defendant is not guilty, but somebody in this courtroom is" (Harper 203).
In July 1984 Jennifer Thompson, a 22-year old white woman, was raped by a black man in her apartment. A man named Ronald Cotton was arrested and identified by Thompson in a line-up and a phot-spread. According to her interview with CBS’s 60 minutes in 1999, Thompson explained how she was confident in her identification. In 1985, Cotton’s conviction of raping Thompson was based largely on her identification. While in prison, two years later, a fellow inmate of Cotton confessed to the rape of Jennifer Thompson. However, it wasn’t until 1995 when DNA showed that Ronald Cotton was innocent. According to the Innocence Project, Ronald Cotton spent 10 years in prison before being exonerated.
Ronald Cotton was sentenced to jail in 1995, after serving ten years for a crime he didn’t even commit. Eye witnesses are considered to be the best form of evidence in an unsolved case. Mr. Cotton was convicted primarily by an eyewitness named Jennifer Thomson-Cannino, who was sure she identified the right male. Years go by and the case was re-ruled and the jury ruled Jennifer 's description as a misidentification. The way the human brain works is marvelous, but often people alter the reality of a situation making false accusations and statements.
For the past two decades, “The Innocence Project” with the help of updated science methods have worked relentlessly to get innocent people out of prison. Through DNA testing, they have been able to find new evidence that have freed hundreds of prisoners who were wrongfully convicted. Other factors such as eyewitness misidentification, false confessions, government misconduct, and inadequate defense also played keys roles in the wrongful convictions. The case that I would I would like to highlight today is that of, Johnnie Lindsey. Johnnie Lindsey was a 30-year old laundry worker who was falsely accused of rape. On August 25, 1981, a white woman reported that she raped while riding her bike at White Rock Lake in Dallas. She told police that
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.
There are a lot of reasons as to why in actual person is wrongfully convicted in the United States Criminal Justice System. This research paper will review eyewitness misidentification and why it is so big in wrongful convictions. It will also look at some feasible remedies and coherent changes that could reduce the conviction rate of people who are actually
The Ronald Cotton case is a primary example of an innocent citizen being sentenced to jail by a mistaken eyewitness testimony. The reliability of eyewitness testimonies to what actually occurred is slim. With the help of the justice system, Ronald Cotton was released and compensated, and the number of cases of mistaken eyewitness testimonies decreased.
Another case was the murder of Jerry Hobbs III’s 8-year-old daughter and her 9-year-old friend. Hobbs, already been acquitted of a different crime, has been in jail for five years. His confession was a result from a high-pressure interrogation. Consequently, prosecutors are pushing for death penalty against Hobbs, even though his DNA did not match the semen found on his daughter’s body. A man who was accused of rape and robbery in Arlington, VA matched the DNA evidence in the murder case. Thus, setting Hobbs free and a concern was raised about the police’s usage of illegal techniques to force a suspect to falsely confess (Black & Mills, 2010).
The possible biases in jury decision-making will be discussed, including those related to having a celebrity on trial. In addition, this paper will examine the taboo nature of sexual assault cases, the problems that often arise in such cases, and the psychological toll on the victim. One issue with this case is the prosecution’s lack forensic evidence. In a “he said, she said” case that lacks the evidence that jurors expect in order to make their decision, it comes down to whether they believe the defendant or the prosecution. When DNA is not available, other types of physical evidence are examined (LaPorte, G., Nguyen, M., Schwarting, D., Scott, F., Waltke, H., Weiss, D., 2017). However, this particular case involves a claim of consensual sex by the defendant. This means that because he admitted to having sexual relations with the plaintiff, physical evidence or DNA would not have made a difference for the plaintiff, even if it was available. The prosecution had Cosby’s deposition from 2005, a testimony of the plaintiff describing the incident, and a witness who testified her own alleged unreported sexual assault by Cosby (http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-bill-cosby-quaalude-deposition-excerpts-20160523-snap-story.html). While the testimony may have been powerful, it was not powerful enough to convince the jury. Rape cases are difficult because they often lack forensic and physical evidence, and it is not uncommon for there to be a great deal of time passed between the incident and report. In this case, there was a year between the incident and report. Over a decade later, the case went to trial. Pennsylvania’s statute of limitation allows 13 years between the incident and report 9http://statelaws.findlaw.com/pennsylvania-law/pennsylvania-rape-laws.html). Therefore, Constand appears to be the only women among the accusers who is able or willing to come to trial. In
In the book “Picking Cotton”, the former Burlington Police Chief Mike Gauldin, who was the lead detective on Jennifer’s case, was certainly sure that Ronald Cotton was the guy he was looking for after Jennifer picked him twice (Jennifer, Ronald, Erin 80); also, on the McCallum’s case, the polices also chose to trust eyewitnesses when they did not have enough physical evidences.Furthermore, judges can be wrong sometime. Wise and Safer, who are authors of the report “ what US judges know and believe about eyewitness testimony”, surveyed 160 U.S. judges to determine how much they know about eyewitness testimony on a small test( Wise, Safer, 427-432). However, the survey responds the average judges in the U.S. only 55% correct within 14 questions (Wise, Safer, 431-432). Moreover, most of the judges who were surveyed did not know key facts about eyewitness testimony. For example, the gap between eyewitness’ confidence and accuracy at trial. As we all known, judges play significance rule in court; also, on my point of view, the judge is a symbol of justice. However, when something were done in wrong way, the only way to fix it is to compensate the victims of wrongfully convicted
Eyewitness identification is ineffective and unjust. Studies have shown that 40% of eyewitness identifications are wrong (Vrij, 1998). Eyewitness identification has great importance in the legal system. This requires the best eyewitness testimony procedure. This essay examines the three main types of eyewitness line-ups; the showup, the sequential and the simultaneous line-up. This essay draws conclusions as to which method the legal system should implement.
According to the Innocence Project one of the greatest causes of wrongful conviction is due to eyewitness misidentification. They state that 72% of cases where defendants have been exonerated eyewitness misidentification played a role. Even though eyewitness testimony has been proven inaccurate numerous times, it can still be the decisive evidence in a court of law. This is because the law views the human memory as a camcorder which can record and repeat whatever it sees. In reality the memory can be affected by numerous outside stimuli and previous beliefs.
Elizabeth Loftus discusses her theories of memory and accuracy in her book, Witness for the Defense. Loftus has testified as an expert witness in more than 150 court cases, several of which she sites, discussing the different ways a memory can be fallible. She urges jurors to remain skeptical of eyewitness identifications of defendants, and demonstrates how mistakes have been made.
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