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American Judicial System

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American Judicial System

Final Research Paper

Sherry L. Crowe

Argosy University Online

Dr. Harbin

September 22, 2014

Abstract

Is eyewitness testimony a reliable source of evidence in today’s American judicial system or is it a hindrance to justice?  Eyewitness testimony is not a reliable source of evidence in today’s American judicial system.  Eyewitness testimony is a reliable source of evidence in today’s American judicial system.

This paper will discuss whether or not eyewitness testimony is or is not a reliable source of evidence in today’s American judicial system.  There should be additional studies that concern the circumstances of eyewitness testimony that is accessible in the function of misleading testimonies that lead innocent people being charged for something that they did not commit.

Introduction and Literature Review

        The dependability of eyewitness testimony has frequently been examined in cases of violence and crime.  There have been copious amounts of psychologists that have done experiments and studies regarding this issue.  Eyewitness testimony has a large psychological background that judges, lawyers and the jury seem to ignore.  Our ability to remember certain situations and events may be distorted according to the time and place that the event occurred or that eyewitness testimony is given.  

“Cognitive psychologists have carried out profound research about this phenomenon and have found that eyewitness testimony can be related to human schemas, reconstructive memory and our ability to remember (Stambor, Z., 2006, p. 26).”

        The 'schema theory' expresses that the knowledge we have in recent times, has picked up through our existence, and it has a major influence on what we remember.  A person’s behavior is influenced by the position of mappings that is in our cerebrum. New encounters that a person faces are not merely "duplicated" into our memory yet they are merely reconstructed to fit our patterns.  The remaking of memory is a dynamic methodology and happens all through our existence (Gross, 64). Thusly, how we recognize an occasion is decidedly impacted by our past experiences.  The human brain subsequently checks few parts of the scenario while disregarding the others to adapt to the tactile flood. This procedure of picking stimuli is called particular consideration. Onlookers have a tendency to gather informative content that identifies with their investment and might disregard other fundamental parts of the occasion (Glassman, 5).

In assessment of these results, this study analyzes the "degree to which eyewitness testimony is reliable in today's American judicial system" keeping tabs on the central point which influences our recollection and capacity to remember.

Methods

Participants

The amount of participants used for this study is fifty people.  Having fifty people for this study would give enough information to use to find out if eyewitness testimony is enough evidence for court.  The participants would be a mixed ethnicity from African American to Caucasian to Hispanics with a mix of males and females in their thirties.  This is probability sampling and generalizable.  There is an exclusion characteristic because of age that is needed.  There are no exclusions for physical or developmental disabilities.  The sample would necessitate diversity since any person can witness an event that happens and in turn be an eyewitness.

Measures or Instruments

The instruments that would be used in this study are questionnaires and interviewing techniques for the participants.  To get this sampling I would get a questionnaire together and gather relevant information for that questionnaire in order to achieve my goal of gathering information for eyewitness testimony.  One way to recruit individuals for this research would be through in-depth interviews.  One way to achieve that is to stratify the population using other variables in addition to the main criterion.  For example, the variables considered for stratified levels would be age, race, and gender.

Procedure

  • Select a study group for the experiment within the age range that was specified above.
  • Have the study group in a room and disclose to them what will take place.
  • Have the perpetrator perform a scene realistically without doing harm to the group or himself.
  • Have the perpetrator leave the room, have a discussion with the study group for about five to ten minutes, then have him make an entrance.
  • After two to three minutes I would then have the perpetrator leave the room.
  • After he has left, I would have each individual in the study group described what happened, what the perpetrator looked like; clothing; identification, etc., which would all be written down.
  • What did you actually see happen?
  • What was the date/day/time?
  • What did the perpetrator look like?  Hair, tattoos, skin color, etc.
  • What was the perpetrator wearing?
  • Was the perpetrator driving, walking, or on a bike?
  • Everyone’s written testimony would then be compared and evaluate the accuracy of each witness and the group as a whole.
  • Once it has all been compared, at least eighty percent of the witnesses should be comparable or the same for it to prove if eyewitness testimony is reliable in the American judicial system.

Ethical Issues

        The kinds of ethical issues that would arise would be, confidentiality, consent forms, persons that are developmentally, mentally, and physically disabled.  There would need to be research into those to make sure things are being done the correct way.  Asking the wrong questions would also be an ethical issue, so doing thorough research before doing anything with this study on eyewitness testimony on whether or not it is a reliable source of evidence in the American judicial system.

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