Validity of Eyewitness Testimony

Validity of Eyewitness Testimony

  • Submitted By: renzo623
  • Date Submitted: 04/26/2014 1:02 PM
  • Category: Psychology
  • Words: 3291
  • Page: 14
  • Views: 1

´╗┐Validity of Eyewitness Testimony

Validity of Eyewitness Testimony
In today's court system one of the strongest pieces of evidence, or that most commonly accepted as fact by a jury, is eyewitness testimony. When correct, eyewitness accounts can aid in the conviction of many guilty people. However when it is incorrect, eyewitness testimony can do severe damage. Researchers have found that "more innocent citizens are wrongfully tried and convicted on the basis of eyewitness evidence in Great Britain and North America than by any other factor within the legal system" (Smith, Stinson, & Prosser, 2004, p. 146). Even with the recent background of cases being overturned on the basis of DNA evidence many years after conviction, eyewitness identification is considered by most jurors and judges as the most persuasive sort of evidence. DNA testing contributed to the exonerations of over 100 people in the United States who were on death row. In 80-90% of these cases, eyewitnesses were a key factor in the conviction (Smith, Stinson, & Prosser, 2004). This poses the question of how valid is eyewitness memory. It does indeed appear to be unreliable. So, therefore, the judge and jurors should be alert to the possibility of mistaken identification resulting not only from suggestive law enforcement identification techniques, but also from the inability of human memory. One possibility is to educate the jurors and judge about the problems surrounding eyewitness testimony. Eyewitness testimony can be flawed simply because of the normal and natural memory processes that occur whenever people acquire, retain, and attempt to retrieve information (Loftus, 1979). The validity of eyewitness identification depends on numerous variables. Eyewitness testimony validity can be affected by perception and memory, the weapon focus effect, cross race identification effects, eyewitness confidence and accuracy, and questioning techniques.
Perception and Memory
Identification by...

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