As we have seen, legal professionals and jurors have difficulty assessing eyewitness accuracy and currently no legal safeguard consistently sensitizes the trier of fact to eyewitness factors. Jurors may not realize that confident, trustworthy witnesses can be mistaken. What psychologists know and believe about memory: This unintentional suggestion can lead an eyewitness to identify a particular individual in a photo array or lineup. The benefits of these reforms are corroborated by over 30 years of peer-reviewed comprehensive research. Immediately following the lineup procedure, the eyewitness should provide a statement, in his own words, that articulates the level of confidence he or she has in the identification made.
In a sequential lineup, people or pictures are shown to a witness one at a time. The report made it clear that this is a very complex problem, rooted in human psychology, which impacted police and courtroom practices. Oklahoma becomes 25th State to Require Recording of Interrogations. Jur Int Because of the ineffectiveness of other safeguards, many scholars recommend that courts use jury instructions or expert testimony to sensitize jurors to eyewitness testimony. Many of these misidentifications could have been prevented, many wrongful convictions averted, and many additional crimes avoided if police had used more reliable lineup procedures. These reforms have been recognized by police, prosecutorial and judicial experience, as well as national justice organizations, including the National Institute of Justice and the American Bar Association.
Estimator variables are factors that cannot be controlled such as the lighting at the crime scene and whether the perpetrator wore a disguise The instructions given to the witness should include a statement that the perpetrator may not be present in the lineup.
Lineups are designed to be a test of memory, and including more than one suspect increases the chance that a defendant is selected by mere guesswork.
Law Hum Behav 35 3: Jury instructions on witness identification. Over people have been wrongfully convicted based, in part, on eyewitness misidentification and later proven innocent through DNA testing.
An Examination of the Causes and Solutions to Eyewitness Error
Once a witness identifies the suspect to police, whether or not that person actually committed the crime, investigators may stop looking for other essy. The I-I-Eye method consists of four steps: Decades of empirical, peer-reviewed social science research reaffirms what DNA exonerations have proven to be true: Any Year Any Year If legal systems are going to minimize eyewitness error, law officers must identify the relevant eyewitness factors at the crime scene and conduct proper eyewitness interviews and identification procedures.
misidsntification Furthermore, legal professionals and experts need periodic refresher courses to keep them informed about the latest developments in eyewitness research. More detailed recommendations can be provided upon request by the Innocence Project.
A defense attorney in the U. Unfortunately, the limited research conducted on jury instructions shows that they do not protect against euewitness error.
Innocence Project research shows: Law Hum Behav 26 3: Social scientists have demonstrated through studies since the s that there was significant reason to be concerned about the accuracy of the eyewitness-identification testimony used in criminal trials.
Eyewitness Identification Reform – Innocence Project
Eyewitjess Cogn Psychol 18 4: His memory is evidence and must be handled as carefully as the crime scene itself to avoid forever altering it. There are no consistent standards for identification procedures from state to state or even from one police department to the next.
Any Year Any Year Conflict of Interest Statement The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. For instance, Magnussen et al.
Eyewitness Identification Reform – Innocence Project
Cross-Examination For cross-examination to be an effective safeguard, three conditions must be met. If this is impracticable, an audio or written record should be made. Share Facebook Twitter Linkedin. It is much easier to prevent eyewitness errors than to detect them once they have occurred Greene found that her revised eyewitness instructions increased mock-juror skepticism, but did not increase their sensitivity to eyewitness testimony. This prevents the administrator of the lineup from providing inadvertent or intentional verbal or nonverbal cues to influence the eyewitness to pick the suspect.
Moreover, because memory is a reconstructive process, once law officers conduct a biased eyewitness interview or identification procedure they generally cannot correct their errors by subsequently conducting proper procedures Law enforcement and the courts should follow the recommendations of social scientists when using and assessing eyewitness techniques, such as lineups, in criminal cases.
In reviewing eight of these studies, where it could be evaluated if expert testimony eyewitess juror sensitivity to eyewitness factors, they found that only two studies increase sensitivity.
Share this story Help us advocate for the innocent by sharing the latest news from the Innocence Project. Leippe MR, Eisenstadt D. In sum, there is no consistently effective legal safeguard for eyewitness error.