It was hot and humid in Burlington, N.C. on the night of July 28, 1984. • Inaccurate eyewitness identifications can confound investigations from the earliest stages. Bruce Bingham, a witness, says, "We noticed there was a white van sitting there.". the opportunity of the witness to view the criminal at the time of the crime; the accuracy of the witness’s prior description of the criminal; the level of certainty demonstrated at the identification procedure; and. (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.) 21 Commonwealth v. Walker, 625 Pa. 450, 476–78 (2014). 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. 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. were caused by EW misidentifications. were caused by EW misidentifications. Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb, leaders of the Bahrain Teachers' Association (BTA), were arrested in March and April 2011 in connection with the BTA's calls for strikes amid the protests at that time, and have been sentenced by a military court to 3 and 10 years in prison, respectively.      In recent years, more and more jurisdictions have come to accept expert testimony on the reliability of eyewitness identification. In addition, a survey of the fre­ (2017). 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… In Winona, Mississippi on July 16, 1996, four people were shot and killed at Tardy furniture store. 5 Brewer & Treyens, Role of Schemata in Memory for Places, Cognitive Psychology 13.2 (1981). 4 Defffenbacher, et al. Pregnant), Left and got about 1-2 blocks away and saw a man running west, away from downtown, it was her neighbor Flowers, Clemy pointed it out to Roy but Roy did not recognize him, Couldn’t remember his clothes or shoes, did not describe seeing blood on him, Latarsha, Clemy’s cousin, remains convinced that Clemy made up the story because she felt pressured by law enforcement and because she might be able to get money – Latarsha was also taken by the police at 19 to be asked questions and Johnson implied that she might get some of the reward money (30k) if she corroborated, Saw a man running across the street 1-2 blocks away that day of the murders, he was alone (not with Clemy) and it was earlier in the morning and when he was with Clemy later, they did not see anybody running, Law enforcement came and found Roy and he ended up giving a statement to John Johnson, Was shown Flowers’ picture (school picture) – ONLY Flowers – asked if that was the person Roy saw running – Roy said no and John Johnson pushed Roy that it was Flowers and that Clemy was with him when it happened – eventually Roy said he broke down and agreed to the story because he wanted to get out of there (he was afraid of Johnson), After that, Johnson recorded Clemy telling her story of seeing Flowers running away from downtown. One of the eyewitnesses in the Courtney case, Angel Rivera, was Latino and the six lineup participants were non-Latino Caucasian. 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 person’s memory all the way to how they are questioned at the police station. 26 According to the Innocence Project, at least one mistaken eyewitness identification was present in almost three-quarters of DNA exonerations. Huffet al. 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 … Compiled by Ann Njarara, Bree Peilen, Daniel Neuman, Emory Cook, Linda Lin, and Perrin Lowrey, Introduction 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. There, the prosecution claims that Flowers killed the people inside Tardy’s, 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. Recently though, with the rise of social science, eyewitness testimony has taken a tumble from its lofty standing. 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. 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). 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. Even the intense media coverage may have helped to distort the details with images of different white vans and trucks. Eyewitness memory is a person's episodic memory for a crime or other dramatic event that he or she has witnessed. And that's one of the major reasons why people make mistakes.". For a description of the development of this doctrine, see, e.g., B. L. Garrett, “Eyewitnesses and Exclusion,” Vanderbilt Law Review 65(2): 451, 463–467 (2012). "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. 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. 26 The Innocence Project, “DNA Exoneree Case Profiles,”. 31 Elizabeth Loftus, Eyewitness Science and the Legal System, 14 Annual Review of Law and Social Science 1–10 (2018).      Recently, post-conviction DNA exonerations of innocent persons have dramatically highlighted the problems with eyewitness identifications. Ultimately, eyewitness testimony is a powerful tool that has the potential to make or break a case. 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. 6 Id. 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. The own-race bias applies nonetheless because of average differences in facial appearance between the two groups.) Of the 190 DNA exonerees who had been convicted based on eyewitness testimony, nearly all the cases had eyewitnesses who were positive … In Manson, the Supreme Court highlighted reliability as the “linchpin in determining the admissibility of identification testimony” and adopted a totality of the circumstances test to assess reliability in this context.10 5 Id. Eyewitness Testimony: Recommended Practices, Eyewitness testimony continues to be commonplace in law enforcement and trials. 8 Clifford & Hollin, Effects Of the Type of Incident and the Number of Perpetrators on Eyewitness Memory, Journal of Applied Psychology 66.3 (1981). There are a few ways in which eyewitness testimony can be inaccurate. Many eyewitnesses testified with high confidence despite earlier expressions of uncertainty.28. Police officers, as well as the general public, focused almost exclusively on white vans because they believed the eyewitnesses. Juries are particularly prone to being swayed by eyewitness testimony, as evidenced in the Curtis Flowers case. Noting a victim’s initial confidence level at the initial identification can be important, so as to track if the witness grows more or less confident with the identification over the course of the trial, which might be an indicator of eyewitness unreliability. "That is a form of proof that has been shown to be, in some cases, a dangerous basis for a prosecution." 27 The Innocence Project, “Eyewitness Identification,”. This helps to safeguard against overly eager police officers who might implicitly encourage eyewitnesses (with tone of voice, body language, etc.) 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. 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 prosecution then claims that Flowers then walked again from his house to Tardy Furniture to commit the murder, passing an auto body shop and a drycleaner on the way, as well as Highway 51. 24 Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Crime in the United States 2012: Persons Arrested,”. This seems logical, but murder cases have been decided in part based on the testimony of eyewitnesses who were more than 450 feet away from the perpetrator. For years the banking industry, even the CIA, have spent millions trying to build a better 'eyewitness', better observers. It was certainly not the first time that eyewitnesses had got it wrong. It's a stressful situation in which tellers are trained to pay attention and remember details. at 114. The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to consider whether a state can block defense lawyers from attacking the dependability of eyewitness testimony. Officers of the law should be instructed by their superiors about the potential inaccuracies and dangers of witness testimony. 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. It was certainly not the first time that eyewitnesses had got it wrong. Instrumental to the prosecution’s 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. 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. In addition, a survey of the fre­      Years later, in 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court highlighted the danger of erroneous eyewitness identification in United States v. Wade, stating, “The vagaries of eyewitness identification are well-known; the annals of criminal law are rife with instances of mistaken identification.”23 The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates that U.S. law enforcement made 12,196,959 arrests in 2012. Often, it can be the strongest evidence in a criminal case even though it can also be the most unreliable. 6 Wells, Memon, Penrod, Eyewitness Evidence: Improving Its Probative Value, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, (2006). Standardized instructions regarding best practices should be given, including such tips as the importance of minimizing contact between witnesses at the scene, and how gathering eyewitness testimony as early as possible tends to increase its accuracy.      The Manson admissibility test consists of two steps. In a bank robbery training tape, the bank robber also commits murder. This section will focus on the court’s current treatment of eyewitness testimony. While 30+ years of research is too much to summarize in a few paragraphs, we will outline the general problems with eyewitness testimony as well as some of them more major research that has been performed on the subject. At the time, there were more than 70,000 white vans in the area. 22 Edwin M. Borchard, Convicting the Innocent: Sixty-Five Actual Errors of Criminal Justice (New York: Garden City Publishing Company, Inc., 1932). Out of the 130 cases, 78 convictions were based solely on eyewitness testimony (Bryant, 2020). Aside from eyesight, researchers have found that stress can also affect an eyewitness account, as well … 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. 109, 109–10 (2006). It is used to establish facts in a criminal investigation or prosecution. Says Loftus, "New information has the potential to contaminate, distort or transform a prior recollection. 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 … Eyewitnesses May Misidentify Perpetrator Of A Crime Due To Stress Or Fear Date: July 21, 2008 Source: Goldsmiths, University of London Summary: A new study highlights the … It was hot and humid in Burlington, N.C. on the night of July 28, 1984. Still, there is little doubt. For all the weaponry and witnesses in the sniper case, it is the lack of details that have hampered this investigation. 18 National Research Council, Identifying The Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification 38 (2014). In about 70% of these cases, misidentification by one or more eyewitnesses contributed significantly as evidence for conviction.3, Eyewitness Testimony: General Social Science Findings, Throughout history, eyewitness testimony was held up as the golden nugget of evidence. 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 9 According to the innocence project, mistaken identification is a leading factor in wrongful convictions. With the serial sniper investigation, the burning question has become -- how is it possible? 27 In many of these cases, eyewitness identification played a significant evidentiary role, and almost without exception, the eyewitnesses who testified … Huffet al. 28 Brandon L. Garrett, Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong 63–68 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011). “Thirty Years of DNA Forensics: How DNA Has Revolutionized Criminal Investigations.” CEN RSS, Chemical and Engineering News, 18 Sept. 2017. Retrieved March, 2019. Jennifer Thompson, then a 22-year-old college student, had gone to bed early in her off-campus apartment. Professor Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California at Irvine explains, "The mind doesn't work like a video tape recorder.". Another eyewitness claims, "I heard the shot! It is important to strive to continue to conduct social science research on the nature of eyewitness and the efficacy of potential reforms like the ones above in order to create effective safeguards against unreliable eyewitness testimony. 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 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. To many Americans — including many jurors — eyewitness testimony is the gold standard when it comes to evidence. 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? The subjects who had been asked the leading question were much more likely to choose the slideshow with the yield sign, since their memories had been tampered by the question asked earlier.4 Many studies have since corroborated the findings of Loftus, such as another experiment, where the same effect was reproduced using television screens, and then seeing the effects between the different participants.5 Studies like these have demonstrated the fickle nature of memory, and how details can be changed without the witness really even recognizing it. This allows jurors to make more informed decisions while evaluating particular eyewitness testimony. Juries should also be informed as to the manner of the identification, the eyewitness’s confidence and other factors that might influence reliability. Under the right circumstances, eyewitness testimony can be reliable. 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 wasn’t 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, Didn’t 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 didn’t feel well (5 mo. 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. This seems logical, but murder cases have been decided in part based on the testimony of eyewitnesses who were more than 450 feet away from the perpetrator. Arnaud, Celia Henry. But eyewitnesses aren't always right, and poor investigative practices can make matters worse. Instructions given to eyewitnesses should be clear, simple and standardized across jurisdictions. The Innocence Project found that out of 138 cases, two-thirds of the DNA exonerated cases were due to an eyewitness testimony (Howitt, 2012). Out on his porch and saw Flowers walking by that morning. A fearful public and frustrated police agencies want the serial sniper stopped -- dead or alive. 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. In a 1996 report by the U.S. Justice Department, 28 convicted rapists were released after a post-conviction DNA test proved their innocence. Many more sit in prisons who have not had the opportunity to have their cases re-investigated or samples re-tested. Overall, an issue plaguing both courts and law enforcement is the lack of standard procedures to safeguard defendants against unreliable eyewitness testimony. The testimony of an eyewitness could make up for many shortcomings in a case, such as the lack of any actual physical evidence. 27 In many of these cases, eyewitness identification played a significant evidentiary role, and almost without exception, the eyewitnesses who testified … 10 Manson v. Brathwaite, 432 U.S. 98, 114 (1977). Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the our 24/7 digital news network. Mistaken eyewitness identifications contributed to approximately 69% of the more than 375 wrongful convictions in the United States overturned by post-conviction DNA evidence. The more violent the crime she says, the less reliable the eyewitness. Eyewitness testimony can hold a lot of weight with jurors. Harvard Univ Press; Cambridge, MA: 2011. Judges should include within jury instructions clear and concise instructions on how to evaluate and make use of eyewitness testimony during their deliberations. 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.      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 See here: Innocence Project, ‘Eyewitness misidentification’ accessed on March 9, 2019. 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. A meta-analytic review of the effects of high stress on eyewitness memory, Law and Human Behavior 28.6 (2004), 687-706. Perry v. New Hampshire, a case which raised similar issues, was decided January 11, 2012 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Perry v. New Hampshire, a case which raised similar issues, was decided January 11, 2012 by the U.S. Supreme Court.      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. 4 Brathwaite, 423 U.S. at 114. 13 See Timothy P. O’Toole & Giovanna Shay, Manson v. Brathwaite Revisited: Towards a New Rule of Decision for Due Process Challenges to Eyewitness Identification Procedures, 41 Val. 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. Judges should strive to make sure the jury is informed of all of the identifications an eyewitness has made prior to the trial. Here is a link to a general overview on eyewitness testimony from the National Science Foundation. 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 which in an 8–1 decision decided that judicial examination of eye-witness testimony was required only in the case of police misconduct. 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. 14 Manson, 432 U.S. 98, 125–26 (Marshall, J., dissenting). 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 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. (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.) 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 so many say they heard something? Jennifer Thompson, then a 22-year-old college student, had gone to bed early in her off-campus apartment. 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. "That is a form of proof that has been shown to be, in some cases, a dangerous basis for a prosecution." In 24 of the cases, eyewitnesses identified the wrong man. 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. California Privacy/Information We Collect. 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. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone. 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. 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. The NRC found that police officers and detectives are frequently uninformed of what the best practices concerning gathering eyewitness testimony are. The NRC’s recommendations for law enforcement and judges are below.32. 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. the time between the crime and the identification procedure. 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… In the United States, more than 300 exonerations have resulted from postconviction DNA testing since 1989. This morning in you know you there was a guy opening right there we know the innocence project isn't worth 7%. 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. Under the right circumstances, eyewitness testimony can be reliable. CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts asks, why are so called "eyewitnesses" so unreliable? 15 Perry v. New Hampshire, 565 U.S. 228, 248 (2012). There are a few ways in which tellers are trained to pay attention and remember details ;,... And law enforcement and trials it can be reliable our 24/7 digital network! We noticed there was a white van sitting there. `` there. `` almost cases. On EW identification decisions while evaluating particular eyewitness testimony can hold a lot of weight jurors. Be instructed by their superiors about the potential to contaminate, distort or transform prior! A powerful tool that has the potential to contaminate, distort or transform a prior recollection end may. Simple and standardized across jurisdictions '' so unreliable your TV, computer,,! Eyewitness claims, `` we noticed there was a guy opening right we! 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