Psychology and Law: Truthfulness, Accuracy and Credibility

By Amina Memon; Aldert Vrij et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS IN
EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY
Estimator Variables and System Variables in Eyewitness Identification108
Estimator Variables109
System Variables120
Summary and Conclusion125

Evidence in criminal trials is often based upon eyewitness testimonies. An example of a recent case in the UK that relied heavily on eyewitness evidence is that of Barry George, convicted in July 2001 of the murder of television presenter Jill Dando. The police held live identity parades after George's arrest in May 2000. A live parade is one in which a witness is asked to look at several people (the suspect and volunteers who resemble the suspect) standing in a row behind a one-way mirror (they cannot see through the mirror). None of the five witnesses picked George. In the summer of 2000, the police presented four other witnesses with a video-identity parade, from which one witness identified George. When questioned in court, this witness stated she had seen George for a total of 5 or 6 seconds from under an umbrella (it was raining at the time). Three witnesses who had also had fleeting glances of the suspect had lingered on George's photograph during the parade but had not picked anyone from the lineup. Despite this, the three non-identifications were presented by the prosecution in court as near-misses. The prosecution claimed that the descriptions given by all four witnesses were consistent. The descriptions were general (for example, “Mediterranean” appearance) and could apply to a large percentage of the general population of men living in the UK. All witnesses were given feedback after the line-up in that they were told that George was the suspect. The witnesses who had not identified George became increasingly confident that George was the one they should have picked from the line-up and one of these witnesses went as far as identifying George as he stood in the dock during the trial (the Independent, 11 July 2002). George appealed his conviction in 2002, but the Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and concluded that Barry George, and

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Psychology and Law: Truthfulness, Accuracy and Credibility
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • About the Authors ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - Telling and Detecting Lies 7
  • Chapter 3 - Facial Appearance and Criminality 37
  • Chapter 4 - Interviewing Suspects 57
  • Chapter 5 - Interviewing Witnesses 87
  • Chapter 6 - Psychological Factors in Eyewitness Testimony 107
  • Chapter 7 - False Memories 127
  • Chapter 8 - Jury Decision Making 147
  • Chapter 9 - The Role of Expert Witnesses 169
  • References 181
  • Index 221
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