Faulty Eyewitness Testimony

We discussed in class that eyewitness testimonies are unreliable because of memory errors like updating. Although, this article gives many reasons that someone may give a faulty eyewitness testimony. The author cites a study by the American Judicature Society stating that “if a person uninvolved in the case presents the photos one-by-one, rather than all at once, fewer mistakes are made.” This can be explained by updating. Updating is new information being folded into existing memories leading to updating effects. Misleading questions can cause updating of a memory, which leads the witness to a certain answer. The article says emotions can play a part in mistaken eyewitness testimony. The author recounts an incident in which her fear caused her to incorrectly identify the suspect not just once but three times. The author also cites the New Jersey Supreme Court for saying the witness can be influence by stress, the length of sighting, weapon involvement, and if the suspect is of a different race. Eyewitness testimony has the ability to sway a jury but it is not reliable. More and more studies are proving that eyewitness testimony is faulty, and the judicial system needs to recognize that and develop a solution.


Wexler, L. (2011, September 21). Eyewitness testimony often lies. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/20/opinion/wexler-witness-memory-davis/

One thought on “Faulty Eyewitness Testimony

  1. Aubree

    I really enjoyed your post and agree very strongly with what you are saying. Eye witness testimonies have too much weight in court cases. Working at a restaurant, I see so many people and even though I can recognize the ones I’ve talked to from the ones I haven’t. However, I cannot remember their names or what I helped them with. Judicial systems should read some of the research that has been completed on this topic. I do not believe that it is fair to commit someone to a sentence solely based on an eyewitness testimony. Hard evidence or confessions should be requirements for declaring someone guilty because eye witness testimonies and circumstantial evidence is not enough.

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