Witness Misidentification

In: Social Issues

Submitted By perry96
Words 2970
Pages 12
Witness Misidentification
Freddricka Harris
CCJ 4360-001
Monekka Munroe

Misidentification can be defined as making a falsely or inaccurate identification. Witness can be defined as one who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced. (American Heritage Dictionary) When you put these two words together, you get witness misidentification which has been referred to as the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, with nearly 75% of the convictions overturned through DNA testing. There have been 260 exonerations across the country based on forensic DNA testing with 3 out of 4 involving cases of eyewitness misidentification. (Innocence Project 1999)
In 1907 or 1908, Hugo Munsterberg published “On the Witness Stand”; he questioned the reliability of eyewitness identification. As recent as 30 or 40 years ago, the Supreme Court acknowledged that eyewitness identification is problematic and can lead to wrongful convictions. The Supreme Court instructed lower courts to determine the validity of eyewitness testimony based on irrelevant factors, like the certainty of the witness, the certainty you express in court during the trial has nothing to do with how certain you feel two days after the event when you pick a photograph out of a set or pick the suspect out of a lineup. It has been said that you become more certain over time. (The Confidential Resource September 15, 2010)
An eyewitness viewing a simultaneous lineup tends to make a judgment about which individual in the lineup looks most like the perpetrator relative to the other members of the lineup. This is particularly problematic when a lineup only contains innocent people. Research has shown that the effective use of fillers when composing a lineup can help combat the tendency for the relative judgment process to lead to the identification of an…...

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