RELIABITY OF EYE-WITNESS TESTIMONY
Eye-witness are those person who have seen the crime or significant event. They appear in court to testify in trials when the subpoena is issued by the attorney or judge. They take an oath and tell the truth under penalty or perjury.
50% of eyewitness testimonies are often flawed, the subsequent information or statement given by the witness to the jury who believes them to be intrinsically accurate beats the reliable facts of fingerprints and DNA.
Unfortunately witness sometimes show initial doubt. But even if the witness is confident in identifying it doesn’t necessarily reflect how accurate their identification is. Sometimes law enforcers put this witnesses in hypnosis to increase their recollection but it does nothing for accuracy. Cross-examining as well will not repair the inconsistencies.
firstly, we need to understand the witness, Some of them are having faulty observation, recollection while others are bias or lying. Most of them are moral citizens who aims to help solve the case or crime. But you will wonder why do this witness have high discrepancies in their statements. It is because our mind doesn’t function as a video recorder. It is more like static and it fluctuates over time. Stressful event will not be remembered in actual details. If the incident takes place right before our very eye details like facial character will be less remembered. The event will just go over and over our mind but the inaccuracy of details will continue to rise. The event that happen in a split seconds is hard for our memory to capture and maintain it. Our mind can not pay much attention to details. For instance we witness perpetrator robbing a bank, but we can never pay attention how do they look like and if we do, our attention is drawn to the unusual e.g the person’s race, clothes or tattoo if the perpetrator has one.
Researchers studied the effect of eyewitness testimony, It is said that erroneous eyewitness identification account for more convictions of innocent people. In one study they put the suspect in a police lineup , the eyewitness then give false impression. In another study, conducted by University of Nebraska, they let students watched stage crime. An hour later they were asked to look into the mug shots, then a week later they were asked to pick the suspect out of the lineups.The witness likely to choose innocent person in the lineup. About 8% of the people were mistakenly identified as criminals while 20% of innocent people whose photographs were included were mistakenly identified. The resemblance to the felon were likely to be the cause of the person’s convictions.
The jury should look at the substantial facts and evidence presented in the court, not just the statement of witness which is perhaps the least reliable. Using an eye-witness fuel an argument but I think using eyewitness in court must be studied closely especially if the case is a matter of life and death situations. We need to realize that there are a lot of innocent people serving sentences or awaiting execution of the crime they never did.