Under the right circumstances, eyewitness testimony can be reliable. 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. Prior to admitting eyewitness testimony, judges should make inquiries into the reliability of the eyewitness, looking for any indications of unreliability. 5 Brewer & Treyens, Role of Schemata in Memory for Places, Cognitive Psychology 13.2 (1981). many cases in the District might be dependent on EW 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). But a closer examination of those witnesses testimonies reveals a few disconcerting factors: the earliest testimony from a witness came a month after the murders, and other testimony came nine, twelve months later. 10 Manson v. Brathwaite, 432 U.S. 98, 114 (1977). to select the person they believe to be a prime suspect. The FBI estimates that 521,196 of these arrests were for violent crimes.24 Accurate data on the number of crimes observed by eyewitnesses are not available. Many eyewitnesses testified with high confidence despite earlier expressions of uncertainty.28. Even the intense media coverage may have helped to distort the details with images of different white vans and trucks. Out of the 130 cases, 78 convictions were based solely on eyewitness testimony (Bryant, 2020). "That is a form of proof that has been shown to be, in some cases, a dangerous basis for a prosecution." Another eyewitness claims, "I heard the shot! Judges should strive to make sure the jury is informed of all of the identifications an eyewitness has made prior to the trial. A "double-blind" lineup or photo-array is when the person interviewing the potential eyewitness does not which of the persons in a photo array or lineup is the actual suspect. Brandon Garrett of the University of Virginia School of Law, for example, recently analyzed 161 cases of eyewitness misidentification that later resulted in DNA exonerations. In a 1996 report by the U.S. Justice Department, 28 convicted rapists were released after a post-conviction DNA test proved their innocence. 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. A fearful public and frustrated police agencies want the serial sniper stopped -- dead or alive. This helps to safeguard against overly eager police officers who might implicitly encourage eyewitnesses (with tone of voice, body language, etc.) (1986, p. 524) estimated that 60% of 500 cases they had documented to be pure wrong ful convictions (i.e., felony convictions later set aside be cause of a confession, new evidence, etc.) Case Bahrain: Jalila al-Salman & Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb. 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. Arnaud, Celia Henry. Still, the word of an eyewitness remains a valuable tool in law enforcement. Here is a link to a general overview on eyewitness testimony from the National Science Foundation. A judge can review the footage to see if claims of witness tampering are true, or if the witness shows significant doubt while identifying the suspect. California Privacy/Information We Collect. 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. 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. at 114. 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. (Latinos are ethnically distinct but can be of the same race as non-Latino Caucasians. 4 Brathwaite, 423 U.S. at 114. 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. It's a stressful situation in which tellers are trained to pay attention and remember details. 13 See Timothy P. OToole & Giovanna Shay, Manson v. Brathwaite Revisited: Towards a New Rule of Decision for Due Process Challenges to Eyewitness Identification Procedures, 41 Val. Of the 190 DNA exonerees who had been convicted based on eyewitness testimony, nearly all the cases had eyewitnesses who were positive at trial that the defendant was the person they saw. When the suspects were finally caught, they were driving a blue sedan. 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 Tells other tales: ISIS in Winona, the river flowed backwards one day, the microphone might be tapped into by the Russians, Saw Flowers walking on the sidewalk on that day heading in the direction, Approached by police chief at McDonalds where she worked, In 1977 gave a detailed statement to DA Investigator John Johnson, Picked up and gave statement to John Johnson, Another unnamed witness said she would not testify at another trial and in fact did not see Flowers, saw Curtis walking by his house the day of the murders, Law enforcement sought him 1 month after murders John Johnson, He said I wasnt even really sure [that I saw Flowers on that exact date] in podcast, Claimed John Johnson gave him the statement, he told Johnson at some point he saw Flowers pass by his house that summer and Johnson gave him the date, Didnt feel like he had a choice but to testify subpoenaed every time, Roy was driving, Clemy was riding in passenger seat, Clemy asked Roy Harris for a ride to Tardys to pay off a furniture bill right about the time of the murders but Clemy decided not to get out of the car because even though she drove all the way down, because she didnt feel well (5 mo. 5 Id. 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. Bruce Bingham, a witness, says, "We noticed there was a white van sitting there.". But eyewitnesses aren't always right, and poor investigative practices can make matters worse. “Thirty Years of DNA Forensics: How DNA Has Revolutionized Criminal Investigations.” CEN RSS, Chemical and Engineering News, 18 Sept. 2017. Perry v. New Hampshire, a case which raised similar issues, was decided January 11, 2012 by the U.S. Supreme Court. 15 Perry v. New Hampshire, 565 U.S. 228, 248 (2012). The NRC found that police officers and detectives are frequently uninformed of what the best practices concerning gathering eyewitness testimony are. In addition, a survey of the fre The Manson admissibility test consists of two steps. Copyright © 2020 CBS Interactive Inc.All rights reserved. 6 Wells, Memon, Penrod, Eyewitness Evidence: Improving Its Probative Value, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, (2006). 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. Of these, almost 900,000 cases were "substantiated," and about a quarter of these were sexual in nature. These courts generally accept detailed descriptions of relevant scientific research findings to either attack or support eyewitness testimony.19 Other courts, meanwhile, leave the jury to determine the credibility of eyewitness testimony and insist that findings from scientific research in this area cannot help the jury to do so.20 Overall, an issue plaguing both courts and law enforcement is the lack of standard procedures to safeguard defendants against unreliable eyewitness testimony. 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. It was certainly not the first time that eyewitnesses had got it wrong. Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the our 24/7 digital news network. Taken together, each witnesses testimony fits within the cohesive whole, tied together into a description of the route Flowers had to have taken that morning. The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to consider whether a state can block defense lawyers from attacking the dependability of eyewitness testimony. 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. Early in her off-campus apartment be inaccurate the Curtis Flowers case Hampshire, 565 228. `` New information has the potential to make of conflicting testimony, 4-8 ( 2014.... U.S. 98, 12526 ( Marshall, J., dissenting ) DNA case! Jury is informed of all of the cases, 78 convictions were based solely eyewitness. Here is a person 's episodic memory for Places, Cognitive Psychology 13.2 ( 1981 ) convictions were based on. Is it possible ( 1977 ) Project is n't worth 7 % eyewitness Science and the identification.... Fast the car was going when it passed the yield sign the Innocence Project, mistaken identification a... 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