This allows jurors to make more informed decisions while evaluating particular eyewitness testimony. Huffet al. which in an 8–1 decision decided that judicial examination of eye-witness testimony was required only in the case of police misconduct. And how is it possible that all of it adds up to so little -- not even a composite of the killer, just his suspected 'get away' vehicle. 28 Brandon L. Garrett, Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong 6368 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011). were caused by EW misidentifications. Most witnesses didnt come forward of their own accord, and often enough it was the lead investigator for the district attorneys office, John Johnson, who found the witnesses, and brought them in to testify. Robert Siegel talks to Elizabeth Loftus, law professor at the University of California, Irvine about how jurors can better evaluate the credibility of "eyewitness testimony" in criminal trials. With crimes so violent and so public, an investigation equally intense in darkness and daylight, how is it possible that so many people say they saw something? Eyewitness testimony is often relied upon in the judicial system.It can also refer to an individual's memory for a face, where they are required to remember the face of their perpetrator, for example. Guidance can help jurors who might not know what to make of conflicting testimony. But eyewitnesses aren't always right, and poor investigative practices can make matters worse. First, the judge must determine whether the procedure used by law enforcement officials in obtaining the proffered eyewitness identification (e.g., photographic array or lineup) was unnecessarily suggestive.11 The judge must then weigh this determination against the following five factors to assess the reliability of the identification: In practice, therefore, the test is flexible. Using eyewitnesses to identify a suspect as the perpetrator to the crime is a form of direct testimonial evidence that is used for forensic purposes. "Double-Blind" Process for Lineups and Photo Arrays. Historically, eyewitness testimony has been in use not only in the United States and our penal system but all around the world. A case in point: On Aug. 24, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued sweeping new rules that make it easier for defendants to challenge eyewitness identification evidence in criminal cases and require judges to hold hearings on the validity of an identification, if there's suspicion that a … Some of these cases are fairly old and may have begun when DNA testing was not possible, many women and men were sentenced to jail time for crimes they did not commit for long periods of times. For years the banking industry, even the CIA, have spent millions trying to build a better 'eyewitness', better observers. As of 2014, 44 states and all federal circuits, with the possible exception of the 11th Circuit, allow such expert testimony at the discretion of the trial judge.21, Eyewitness Testimony: Application in Court, The Manson v. Brathwaite test under the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution for assessing eyewitness identification evidence was established in 1977, before much applied research on eyewitness identification had been conducted. 3 Eyewitness Misidentification. In response to this issue, the National Research Council (NRC) formed a research committee in 2013 chaired by Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the Southern District of New York and cognitive scientist, Thomas Albright of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.31 The group released their findings in 2014 in a report titled Identifying the Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification. In Perry v. New Hampshire, the Supreme Court barred the defendant from challenging the eyewitness testimony proffered by the state, even though the circumstances surrounding the eyewitnesss identification of the defendant were decidedly suggestive. Overall, an issue plaguing both courts and law enforcement is the lack of standard procedures to safeguard defendants against unreliable eyewitness testimony. In one of the earliest studies of this misinformation effect run by Elizabeth Loftus, subjects were shown a slideshow of a red car passing a stop sign and hitting a pedestrian. Of those reopened cold cases, 24 percent ended in convictions and 24 percent were cleared by "exceptional" means, instances in which the culprit was … Another way is through the misinformation effect, where something occurs between the event and the reporting of the event to muddy or confuse the witness. 18 National Research Council, Identifying The Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification 38 (2014). He found that more than half of the initial trials involved a witness who, like Jennifer Thompson, was unsure at the time of the suspect ID, but who then expressed confidence in his or her choice when testifying in a courtroom. Out on his porch and saw Flowers walking by that morning. 6 Id. Document Witness Confidence and Videotape Witness Identifications. the time between the crime and the identification procedure. Under the right circumstances, eyewitness testimony can be reliable. 14 Manson, 432 U.S. 98, 12526 (Marshall, J., dissenting). See here: Innocence Project, Eyewitness misidentification accessed on March 9, 2019. 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. 25 A. G. Goldstein, J. E. Chance, and G. R. Schneller, Frequency of Eyewitness Identification in Criminal Cases: A Survey of Prosecutors, 27(1) Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society: 71, 73 (January 1989). Perry v. New Hampshire, a case which raised similar issues, was decided January 11, 2012 by the U.S. Supreme Court. “Thirty Years of DNA Forensics: How DNA Has Revolutionized Criminal Investigations.” CEN RSS, Chemical and Engineering News, 18 Sept. 2017. Judges should continue to allow expert testimony from social scientists on the general reliability of eyewitness testimony, so that jurors are informed about the strengths and weaknesses of eyewitness testimony as a practice. Some courts have held it as an abuse of discretion for a trial judge to bar the defense from admitting expert testimony on eyewitness identification. Other tips were ignored. The modern test for the admissibility of eyewitness testimony at a criminal trial under the Due Process Clause was established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Manson v. Brathwaite in 1977. Claimed to have called out to Flowers that day. Two eyewitnesses deposed before the special court for heinous crime against women here on Tuesday as the trial began in the sensational Nikita Tomar murder case… 24 Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the United States 2012: Persons Arrested,. Before crime shows like CSI and the scientific advancements which ushered in modern forensics such as fingerprinting and DNA, eyewitnesses were often the only form of proof of a guilty person or act. many cases in the District might be dependent on EW identification. Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the our 24/7 digital news network. In 1932, Yale University law professor Edwin M. Borchard documented nearly seventy cases of miscarriage of justice caused by eyewitness errors in his book, Convicting the Innocent.22
Loftus has studied the mind of "the eyewitness" for 25 years. A fearful public and frustrated police agencies want the serial sniper stopped -- dead or alive. Sixty eyewitnesses were interviewed, and two eyewitnesses who had actually seen the airplane just before the impact testified at a hearing to investigate the accident. The case rested solely on the testimony of the victim, Ann Meng, a young mother of three who confidently pointed to Ruffin as her assailant. 27 The Innocence Project, Eyewitness Identification,. 8 Clifford & Hollin, Effects Of the Type of Incident and the Number of Perpetrators on Eyewitness Memory, Journal of Applied Psychology 66.3 (1981). More and more research has come out in the last few decades indicating that there are many dangers to relying on eyewitnesses, from the uncertainty of relying on a persons memory all the way to how they are questioned at the police station. 4 Defffenbacher, et al. Even where a judge determines that a given identification procedure is unnecessarily suggestive, the judge may nonetheless admit the results of the procedure if they are deemed reliable based on these factors.13 In his dissenting opinion, Justice Marshall criticized the Court for ignoring studies showing that unnecessarily suggestive eyewitness identifications had led to erroneous convictions even where such identifications had been deemed reliable.14
to select the person they believe to be a prime suspect. In Winona, Mississippi on July 16, 1996, four people were shot and killed at Tardy furniture store. According to the prosecution on the day of the murder, at around 7 am, Flowers walked from his home on the West side of town all the way to a sewing factory parking lot on the East side of town, crossing Highway 51, one of the towns largest streets, while doing so. Instructions given to eyewitnesses should be clear, simple and standardized across jurisdictions. 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 … the opportunity of the witness to view the criminal at the time of the crime; the accuracy of the witnesss prior description of the criminal; the level of certainty demonstrated at the identification procedure; and. Eyewitnesses statements often play a vital role in securing criminal convictions – police surveys show that eyewitness testimony is the main form of evidence in more than 20% of cases… Additionally, critics cited the fact that cases were not randomly assigned to either group, and cases thought to be "tougher," such as cross-race identifications or those in which the lineup took place after a delay, were more likely to be assigned to the sequential group, thus negatively skewing the sequential results. Jennifer Thompson, then a 22-year-old college student, had gone to bed early in her off-campus apartment. The first is in the classic My Cousin Vinny situation, where eyewitnesses simply believe they see something, despite not actually being capable of truly witnessing the event accurately. With the serial sniper investigation, the burning question has become -- how is it possible? One estimate based on a 1989 survey of prosecutors suggests that at least 80,000 eyewitnesses make identifications of suspects in criminal investigations each year.25
This section will focus on the courts current treatment of eyewitness testimony. Videotaping allows for review of eyewitness testimony later on in the trial if the reliability of eyewitness testimony is called into question. 2
In the end it may play a vital role in the serial sniper case. Many more sit in prisons who have not had the opportunity to have their cases re-investigated or samples re-tested. Aside from eyesight, researchers have found that stress can also affect an eyewitness account, as well … This helps to safeguard against overly eager police officers who might implicitly encourage eyewitnesses (with tone of voice, body language, etc.) The testimony of an eyewitness could make up for many shortcomings in a case, such as the lack of any actual physical evidence. In addition, a survey of the fre This morning in you know you there was a guy opening right there we know the innocence project isn't worth 7%. There, the prosecution claims that Flowers killed the people inside Tardys, stole money from the stole, and then went back home, stopping to buy chips and beer at a convenience store on Highway 51 on the way. 27 In many of these cases, eyewitness identification played a significant evidentiary role, and almost without exception, the eyewitnesses who testified … The fact that the eyewitnesses were sticking to their original testimonies essentially meant that Goethals could not rule that the prosecution's case had been undermined. Another one involved a man named Brandon Garrett from the University of Virginia School of Law who ended up analyzing 161 cases of eyewitness misidentification that ended up getting … Mistaken eyewitness identifications contributed to approximately 71% of the more than 360 wrongful convictions in the United States overturned by post-conviction DNA evidence.• Inaccurate eyewitness identifications can confound investigations from the earliest stages. CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts asks, why are so called "eyewitnesses" so unreliable? In assessing the reliability of eyewitness identification, federal and state courts are still divided on (1) whether expert testimony on eyewitness identification should be allowed under either Daubert or Frye and (2) the proper exercise of trial court discretion when deciding whether to admit such expert testimony.18
15 Perry v. New Hampshire, 565 U.S. 228, 248 (2012). The prosecutor, Doug Evans, tried Curtis Flowers, a former employee at Tardy, six times for the crime.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.30
In recent years, more and more jurisdictions have come to accept expert testimony on the reliability of eyewitness identification. The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to consider whether a state can block defense lawyers from attacking the dependability of eyewitness testimony. Even the intense media coverage may have helped to distort the details with images of different white vans and trucks. Juries are particularly prone to being swayed by eyewitness testimony, as evidenced in the Curtis Flowers case. Retrieved March, 2019. many cases in the District might be dependent on EW identification. Still, there is little doubt. Whether it's eyewitnesses, other evidence, or an error by a killer -- who thus has been as crafty as he is cold blooded -- something will have to bring the sniper in. To many Americans — including many jurors — eyewitness testimony is the gold standard when it comes to evidence. 5 Id. And that's one of the major reasons why people make mistakes.". "That is a form of proof that has been shown to be, in some cases, a dangerous basis for a prosecution." Many eyewitnesses testified with high confidence despite earlier expressions of uncertainty.28. 109, 10910 (2006). Later two slideshows were shown, one with a stop sign and the other with a yield sign and they asked the subjects which was the one they had previously seen. They found that the odds of a false identification were 1.56 times greater in cases where the race was different than the witness, thus highlighting how bias can affect how somebody remembers an event.7 With regard to stress, studies such as those run by Clifford & Hollin have looked at how memory is affected under a high-stress situation. 21 Commonwealth v. Walker, 625 Pa. 450, 47678 (2014). (Latinos are ethnically distinct but can be of the same race as non-Latino Caucasians. Often, it can be the strongest evidence in a criminal case even though it can also be the most unreliable. Professor Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California at Irvine explains, "The mind doesn't work like a video tape recorder.". Given the prevalence and impact eyewitness testimony can have within a criminal case, it is important to take steps to make it a more reliable practice. Instrumental to the prosecutions theory was the testimony of at least twelve witnesses, each placing Flowers along a discrete portion of the route he was supposed to have traveled that day. Other major dangers that have plagued eyewitness reports are factors such as high-stress situations, how witnesses are interviewed by police, and whether the victim is the same or different race as the witness.6 In 2001, Meissner and Brigham performed a broad review of research on cross-race identification, analyzing data from 39 research articles and 5,000 subjects/witnesses. In the United States, more than 300 exonerations have resulted from postconviction DNA testing since 1989. 23 United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 230, 288 (1967). Still, the word of an eyewitness remains a valuable tool in law enforcement. "What the violence does is, it disrupts the processing that's necessary for full consolidation of this information into our long-term memory," says Loftus. Despite the frequency of use, we have been confronted as a country with many incredible failures of eyewitness testimony such as misidentifications that led to convictions and sentences of people who were later discovered innocent.1 Science has played no small role: post-conviction DNA profiling made possible by the development of the polymerase chain reaction, which enables amplification of crime-scene DNA to quantities sufficient for forensic analysis have meant that DNA identification is becoming increasingly used even in cases where it was previously not viable: those where we have smaller samples.2 As of now, almost 350 people, many serving long prison sentences, have been exonerated because their own DNA was discovered to be incompatible with evidence long ago collected from the crime scene. • Inaccurate eyewitness identifications can confound investigations from the earliest stages. Specifically, the eyewitness had identified the defendant from her window, as the defendant was standing in the dark next to a police officer; however, the eyewitness had pointed to the defendant spontaneously, without the police asking her to do so.16 The Court ruled that, because the police had not induced the identification under suggestive circumstances, the trial judge had not erred in admitting the eyewitness testimony without assessing its reliability under the second step of the Manson test.17
9 According to the innocence project, mistaken identification is a leading factor in wrongful convictions. And how is it possible so many say they heard something? The NRCs recommendations for law enforcement and judges are below.32. legally important event) and later gets up on the stand and recalls for the court all the details of the witnessed event On May 3, 1982, in a Norfolk, Va. circuit court, the 29-year-old was convicted of a rape that he did not commit and was sentenced to five life sentences. Here is a link to a general overview on eyewitness testimony from the National Science Foundation. Of these, almost 900,000 cases were "substantiated," and about a quarter of these were sexual in nature. The more violent the crime she says, the less reliable the eyewitness. 10 Manson v. Brathwaite, 432 U.S. 98, 114 (1977). On white vans because they believed the eyewitnesses such as the lack of standard procedures to safeguard against. 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