March 01, 2017

Advance Sheet: Gotta Get a Witness—Wait!! Maybe Not

Robert E. Shapiro

Download a printable PDF of this article.

Some bad ideas just refuse to go away. A couple of decades ago, defense lawyers in criminal cases, looking for some kind of edge against eyewitness testimony, seemed to strike gold when they came upon psychological research showing that eyewitnesses are not what they are cracked up to be. Eyewitnesses, said this newfound science, routinely make mistakes. Far from providing reliable evidence—which these researchers contended everyone supposedly believed was the case—eyewitnesses often get things wrong, skewing the pictures before their eyes with the biases of their brains, not to mention their fears, or anger, or likes and dislikes. Our presumed faith in eyewitnesses, this research claimed, was somewhere between doubtful and delusional.

Premium Content For:
  • Litigation Section
Join - Now