EYEWITNESS MISIDENTIFICATION ESSAY
Proper eyewitness interviews and identifications The most potent means available to the legal system to reduce eyewitness error is to conduct proper eyewitness interviews and identification procedures. Innocence Project research shows: In a sequential lineup, people or pictures are shown to a witness one at a time. In using lineups for purposes of eyewitness identification, the literature recommends the following reforms, as defined by Professor Findley:. Following the NAS report, there have been a number of published articles further addressing the psychological underpinnings of the problem, police practices, and possible judicial solutions. Front Psychiatry 4: This often leads to the selection of a person despite doubts.
Although the results so far have been encouraging, much more research is needed before it can be concluded that I-I-Eye method is an effective safeguard for eyewitness error. Ideally, the instructions would be standardized, with the same instructions read to every witness before a lineup. Consequently, even if jurors were knowledgeable about eyewitness factors, they would still have difficulty assessing eyewitness accuracy. This unintentional suggestion can lead an eyewitness to identify a particular individual in a photo array or lineup. Law enforcement and the courts should follow the recommendations of social scientists when using and assessing eyewitness techniques, such as lineups, in criminal cases.
As was previously discussed, there has been limited research on improving legal safeguards. In recognition of this, procedural jisidentification have been developed by leading eyewitness psychologists and successfully implemented by criminal justice professionals. 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 This unintentional suggestion can lead an eyewitness to identify a particular individual in a photo array or lineup.
First, defense attorneys must be present at identification procedures so they can kisidentification if they were suggestive. In the fourth step, you make conclusions about the likely accuracy of the eyewitness testimony in the case. A disadvantage of a traditional lineup, or a lineup of pictures when all the pictures are presented at once, is that a witness may compare people and select the person that most approximates what they remember.
Furthermore, legal professionals and experts need periodic refresher courses to keep them informed about the latest developments in eyewitness research. Furthermore, it appears judges, like jurors, have difficulty integrating their knowledge of eyewitness testimony into the facts of a criminal case A defense attorney in the U. J Appl Soc Psychol 29 1: To protect the public from mlsidentification convictions based on an eyewitness misidentification, eyewitneas is important that both law enforcement and the misidentifucation take notice of recent developments on the issue in the social sciences.
Which states have implemented these reforms?
Professional organizations should offer courses about eyewitnesses for psychologists and psychiatrists who testify about it. After the crime and throughout the criminal investigation, the witness attempts to piece together what happened. 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.
Share this story Help us advocate for the innocent by sharing the latest news from the Innocence Project. Law enforcement will cause a witness to view a single suspect who has often been located in the vicinity of the crime.
For instance, some researchers recommend that law enforcement agencies do not use show-ups because they are more suggestive than lineups.
In fact, many police departments do not have written procedures for conducting identifications, so there is often inconsistency even within individual police departments.
Lastly, jurors must be capable of applying the relevant mjsidentification factors revealed during cross-examination to the facts of a case Solutions to Eyewitness Error Education Because the principal participants in criminal justice systems have limited knowledge of eyewitness factors, it is essential that legal systems educate them about eyewitnesses.
The Trouble with Eyewitness Identification Testimony in Criminal Cases
These studies further demonstrated the difficulty that expert testimony has in sensitizing the trier of fact to eyewitness factors. For example, both New Jersey and Massachusetts dssay created new statewide jury instructions that give jurors guidance regarding the problems associated with eyewitness identifications and how misidentificatjon can better assess the credibility of that testimony. Eyewitness identification also plays a key role in shaping investigations. Consequently, the use of scientific procedures in producing eyewitness evidence should be an important factor in determining whether eyewitness evidence is admitted in criminal cases.
Law Hum Behav 22 6: He also addressed the mechanisms some state judiciaries have used to mitigate the problem.
It should be noted that the most critical reforms in the area of eyewitness identification will need to come from the law-enforcement community. The courts must be aware of the malleable nature of human memory and the lineup practices used by law enforcement in the jurisdiction.
Journal List Front Psychiatry v. Although there may be some situations when police do not have probable cause to make an arrest and this may be the only viable investigatory mechanism they have, this practice should not otherwise be used.
An Examination of the Causes and Solutions to Eyewitness Error
Which states have implemented these reforms? Wilford and Wells 69 cite examples of impractical reforms eyewitness researchers have proposed.
Ideally, the lineup procedure should be electronically recorded. Jury Instructions Because of the ineffectiveness of other safeguards, many scholars recommend that courts use jury instructions or expert mosidentification to sensitize jurors to eyewitness testimony.