This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

To What Extent Is An Eyewitness Testimony Credible And Therefore Be Used In Court?

2105 words - 8 pages


Scholars and practitioners alike share a widespread belief that the single greatest cause of wrongful conviction is because of an eyewitness testimony. April 23, 2007, marked the 200th criminal conviction exonerated by DNA evidence in the United States of America. According to, over 75% of the 200 criminal cases revealed to be wrongful convictions involved a faulty eyewitness testimony. Collectively, these 200 people spent a total of 2,475 years in prison. With factors such as witness memory, dependability, deception, and the outside influences one may encounter, psychologists and practitioners have begun to dispute whether or not an eyewitness is credible and therefore should be used in a legal court of law. In January of 2012 the Supreme Court reconsidered the use of eyewitness identification in court and in an 8 to 1 vote, court justices decided to change nothing. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote “There is no reason for the court to change its view that judges on their own cannot throw out eyewitness testimony unless police have manipulated circumstances to produce a desired outcome.” (Barnes 2012) Which begs the question that if the Supreme Court accepts eyewitness identification routinely, then is it credible? In this paper we’re going to explore eyewitness testimonies and their fallibilities, which lead to the conclusion that they should not be used in court.


We first start off by determining how we know that a testimony is credible. With many factors involved, such as a person’s disability, knowledge, and personal circumstances, eyewitnesses have a lot of easy influence over their testimony or identification, making it difficult to decide whether or not it is credible. Let’s start off with how a person’s memory can impact an eyewitness. In Courtrooms memory experts are commonly called upon to make clear to jurors “Memory is not a video tape." (Terrell & Weaver, 2008) Not only does memory become stagnated in an emotional situation, but is also malleable. For example, a witness can recall a murderer and remember that he had a birthmark on his cheek, but if an investigator asks what else they recall of the man with a tattoo on his cheek, the eyewitness may believe that he had a tattoo and forget about the birthmark. This post-event misinformation becomes integrated into the witness' memory of the event, a phenomenon known as the "misinformation effect" (Loftus, Donders, Hoffman, & Schooler, 1989). Judges have been very reluctant recently in allowing expert testimonies on memory. There are many reasons for why judges have been so argumentative over the idea. The first is almost all eyewitness memory research is tailored to criminal cases in which the relevance of an expert’s testimony is minimal to the actual case. The second reason is that relatively little eyewitness memory research has examined long-term memory for events, but rather that of the short-term memory. Although there is lack of...

Find Another Essay On To What Extent is an Eyewitness Testimony Credible and Therefore be Used in Court?

'Having a high intelligence is not necessarily an advantage.' To what extent is this shown to be true in Flowers for Algernon and Good Will Hunting?

800 words - 3 pages Charlie succeeding in what they do. Having a high intelligence by no means gave Will an advantage.At the end of both the movie and the novel, there is a major decision that has to be made, a "crunch time." In both instances, the main character is by no means helped by their intellectual capacity. Their decisions were driven by their 'gut feeling' or instinct. They both decide that their decision shouldn't be thought about rationally, but think

Eyewitness Identification and Reliable Testimony Essay

2839 words - 11 pages many mug shots available to be used as fillers. Although there is a gap between the recommended lineup procedures and what truly occurs, courts trust jurors’ experience and common sense in order to be able to sort out the identifications that are wrong (Samaha, 2011). Instructions that occur before a lineup can also lead to mistaken identifications by eyewitnesses. When witnesses are asked to make an identification at a lineup, they tend to feel

false memory and eyewitness testimony

2096 words - 8 pages false identifications. This indicates that there is a suggestibility that can encroach into memories and their recall, a person’s recall can be influenced by ‘Malleability’. Thus, ‘False Memory’ in relation to ‘Eye Witness Testimony’ has a multifaceted influence via a constructive route of filtered processes: a combination of recollection and familiarity, the degree autonoetic placement and noetic purpose in the mind set of the individual; all

Racial Bullying and Eyewitness Testimony

1860 words - 7 pages . Eyewitness testimony is an area of research in human memory and cognitive psychology, which focuses on an account of an event by a person who has witnessed said event. For example, if someone had witnessed an armed robbery, they would give an account in court of what had happened during this armed robbery. This would be called an Eyewitness Testimony. However, there are many problems associated with Eyewitness Testimony. One of the major

The Unreliability of Eyewitness Testimony in Children

2963 words - 12 pages traumatic event. First, it may be that children made false allegations from the start and knew it all along. If that is the case then this implies that they did not form false memories, unlike what many researchers have claimed (e.g., Ceci &Bruck, 1993). Instead, the children were lying to please or calm adults or even seeking attention. The highly suggestive interview allegedly or actually used in these cases may have promoted lies, but not false

Judges and jurists have great faith in the accuracy of eyewitness testimony. Psychologists, however, would have us believe eyewitnesses have little to offer the Criminal Justice System. Discuss

2488 words - 10 pages correctly answering questions relating to the factors that can affect eyewitness accuracy, few judges knew about important factors such as the effects of presuppositional questions and that witness confidence does not equal witness accuracy. Such findings suggest that a vast number of judges hold too much faith in the testimony of witnesses and do not realise the extent to which such evidence is prone to errors, therefore resulting in such a

The Reliability of Eyewitness Testimony, can you really remember what happened or is your judgement impaired over time

794 words - 3 pages happened. In conclusion eyewitness testimony is not reliable at all, for what someone really saw will not come out that way do to how they might feel or if they had a lot on their minds. Facts can still get jumbled and misplaced leaving them to think one thing when it really happened completely differently. Eyewitness testimony should not be used on a basis to try someone for a crime. When the justice system can take a big risk of convicting the wrong person. More research needs to be done before eyewitness testimony should be considered as reliable evidence for a crime.Donetta Taylorpsycology 1010spring 2003

In what ways and to what extent is an understanding of historical context important in approaching the works of David Rousseau and Jaques Louis David?

1201 words - 5 pages evoke a variety of emotions. In comparison David painted weighty and important subjects which made intellectually challenging observations about society. To this extent we can see how an understanding of historical context may be important in approaching David's work.If we are to assess how important an understanding of historical context is in approaching David's work, we need to consider some historical questions: What events were taking place

To what extent the characters in depth at Sheila from ‘An Inspector Calls’ and Lady Macbeth from ‘Macbeth’ and be comparing the relationship betwe

1511 words - 7 pages be greedy for power or wealth. The words 'I really feel engaged' show that she doesn't mind waiting because she knows she'll get what she wants in the end. It also shows that she does not (doesn't) need to manipulate anyone to get her own way. This is because she is from a rich family and is used to a certain lifestyle. Priestley shows Sheila's lifestyle does not give her a reason to cause any harm or problems for anybody, making Sheila an

To What Extent Should Debt Be Justified In The Economy?

1005 words - 5 pages Keynesian economics is the idea that government spending can be used to stabilize the economy, and stresses the importance of moderate economic growth. According to Keynes, during prosperity governments should reduce spending to avoid inflation and to slow down consumer spending in order to maintain stable growth. During times of prosperity Keynesian theory states that governments should pay off debt, reducing the amount of money lost to

To what extent can it be claimed that England underwent an industrial revolution in the years 1750 - 1850?

2213 words - 9 pages TO WHAT EXTENT CAN IT BE CLAIMED THAT ENGLAND UNDERWENT AN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION IN THE YEARS 1750 - 1850The Industrial Revolution was neither sudden nor swift. It was a long, slow process in which production from hand tools to machines and in which new sources of power such as steam and electricity replaced human and animal power. The Industrial Revolution did not only convert the patterns of work in nations, but completely transformed the way

Similar Essays

Psychological Research Shows That Eyewitness Testimony Is Not Always Accurate, Therefore It Should Not Be Used In The Criminal Justice System. Dis

1018 words - 5 pages INTRODUCTION This paper will consider eyewitness testimony and its place in convicting accused criminals. Psychology online (2013) defines “eyewitness testimony” as a statement from a person who has witnessed a crime, and is capable of communicating what they have seen, to a court of law under oath. Eye witness testimonies are used to convict accused criminals due to the first hand nature of the eyewitnesses observations, there are however many

Psychological Research Shows That Eyewitness Testimony Is Not Always Accurate, Therefore It Should Not Be Used In The Criminal Justice System. Dis

1463 words - 6 pages Eyewitness testimony is a recollection of a crime that a person might have seen or been involved in as a victim, but is it an accurate method to be used in the criminal justice system? The Criminal Justice system mostly relies on the identification of a suspect and eyewitnesses have been critical in solving some crimes. Testimonies have also be known to be the only evidence for prosecuting most crimes until the 1990's when the development of

Psychological Research Shows That Eyewitness Testimony Is Not Always Accurate, Therefore It Should Not Be Used In The Criminal Justice System. Dis

1394 words - 6 pages being chosen. There are known to be more than one type of line-up procedure and these are have been the focus of many discussions and studies amongst psychologists to show that there are problems with each of them when it comes to eyewitness testimony. There is the traditional line-up which is commonly used in many jurisdictions. Of recent some have used the blank line-up, which is a line-up of just fillers (people who are not suspects), but

Psychological Research Shows That Eyewitness Testimony Is Not Always Accurate, Therefore It Should Not Be Used In The Criminal Justice System. Dis 2006 Words

2006 words - 9 pages Psychological research shows that eyewitness testimony is not always accurate, therefore it should not be used in the criminal justice system. Discuss. This paper will consider eye witness testimony and its place in convicting accused criminals. Psychology online (2013) defines “eye witness testimony” as a statement from a person who has witnessed a crime, and is capable of communicating what they have seen, to a court of law under oath. Eye