The Reliability of Eyewitness Testimony Essay

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In the court of law, eyewitnesses are expected to present evidence based upon information they acquired visually. However, due to memory processing, presenting this information accurately is not always possible. This paper will discuss the reliability of eyewitness testimony, its use in a relevant court case, and how the reasonable person standard relates to eyewitness testimony. One cannot always accurately reproduce information due to the stages of memory processing that occur after witnessing an event. With each stage, the accuracy of the memory decreases. According to Aronson, Wilson, and Akert (2013), the first stage is acquisition. Acquisition is the process by which people notice only certain information in a …show more content…
Similar to these processes is what Fradella (2006) refers to as post-event misinformation effect, which is when an individual finds out more information regarding an event, and adds it to his/her memory of the actual event. In eyewitness testimonies, individuals take in information between the time of the crime and the testimony, which can cause memory modification. The last stage in memory processing is the retrieval of information. Retrieval refers to the process by which people recall information that has been stored (Aronson et al., 2013). In this stage, problems can arise when an eyewitness is asked to pick the suspect out of a line-up. In some instances, even when the suspect is not present, eyewitnesses will pick an individual out of the line-up who most resembles the criminal they saw commit the crime (Aronson et al., 2013). There is also a chance that the eyewitness fell subject to unconscious transference, where his/her memories become combined or confused. Through this process, eyewitnesses may identify even a simple bystander as the perpetrator (Fradella, 2006). These stages are present throughout court case testimonies. In one particular case, State v. Henderson (2011), James Womble witnessed the shooting of Rodney Harper. On January 1st, 2003, Harper and Womble were together at a friend’s apartment. Two men forcefully entered,

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