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NCJ Number: 51502 Find in a Library
Title: FALLIBILITY OF THE EYEWITNESS - PSYCHOLOGICAL EVIDENCE (FROM PSYCHOLOGY IN THE LEGAL PROCESS, 1977, BY BRUCE D SALES - SEE NCJ-51491)
Author(s): A G GOLDSTEIN
Corporate Author: Spectrum Publications, Inc
United States of America
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 25
Sponsoring Agency: Spectrum Publications, Inc
Jamaica, NY 11432
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH DATA ARE CITED IN SUPPORT OF THE CONTENTION THAT NO OFFICIAL ACTION SHOULD BE PERMITTED AGAINST A SUSPECT ON THE GROUNDS OF UNCORROBORATED EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY.
Abstract: FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM RELIES HEAVILY ON EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY. PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH DATA INDICATE THAT THIS RELIANCE IS ILL ADVISED. DATA FROM SEVERAL EXPERIMENTS IN WHICH SUBJECTS WERE ASKED TO IDENTIFY OR DESCRIBE FACES SEEN BRIEFLY INDICATE THAT THE AVERAGE ERROR OF RECOGNITION IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES IS APPROXIMATELY 30 PERCENT. AS A TECHNIQUE, FACE RECOGNITION MEMORY IS UNTRUSTWORTHY; NO TRIAL COURT WOULD ADMIT IT WERE IT EVALUATED BY THE STANDARDS USED TO EVALUATE FORENSIC SCIENTIFIC METHODS. THE FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE IN EYEWITNESS RECOGNITION MEMORY IS THE WEAKNESS OF THE ORIGINAL MEMORY TRACE LAID DOWN AT THE INSTANT THE WITNESS LOOKS AT THE CULPRIT. EFFORTS TO IMPROVE PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION PROCEDURES TO MAKE THEM FOOLPROOF ARE FUTILE. MULTIPLE EYEWITNESSES MAY BE AS UNRELIABLE AS SINGLE EYEWITNESSES. USING EXPERT WITNESSES TO SUPPORT OR REFUTE THE RELIABILITY OF A GIVEN EYEWITNESS' ACCOUNT IS RARELY JUSTIFIED. BECAUSE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL INHERENT NATURE OF EYEWITNESS UNRELIABILITY, EYEWITNESS IDENTIFICATION TESTIMONY SHOULD NOT BE ADMISSIBLE TO EVIDENCE WHEN IT IS THE ONLY CLASS OF EVIDENCE AVAILABLE IN A CRIMINAL TRIAL. IN ADDITION, NO OFFICIAL POLICE ACTION SHOULD BE TAKEN ON THE BASIS OF EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY ALONE. A LIST OF REFERENCES IS INCLUDED. (LKM)
Index Term(s): Witnesses
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=51502

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