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Lecture 9

PSYC 2400E - Lecture 9 - Feb. 5, 2013.docx

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PSYC 2400
Julie Dempsey

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 PSYC 2400 - Winter 2013 Lecture 9 Eyewitness Memory Overview & Learning Objectives • Why is eyewitness research important? • Difference between recall and recognition memory • Factors influencing memory – System variables – Estimator variables • Criminal descriptions – Function – Issues • Lineup identifications – Function – Types – Issues Contributing Causes of Wrongful Convictions • Eyewitness misidentification – 77% (173 cases) • Unvalidated forensics – 52% (116 cases) • False confessions – 23% (51 cases) • Informants – 16% (36 cases) The Eyewitness Identification Problem • Mistaken eyewitness identification is the leading cause of wrongful conviction – In DNA exoneration cases (in the U.S.), in over 75% of the time, the primary evidence was eyewitness identification – 226 + cases and counting • Eyewitness identification problems also are found in several Canadian cases Troy Davis Case • Convicted in 1991 of killing an off-duty police officer • 7 witnesses came forward testified against him • Convicted based on misidentification? • Appeal in 2009, witnesses took back their testimonies • Executed Sept. 21, 2011 • Still don’t know if he actually committed the crime Ronald Cotton Case • Wrongfully convicted for rape and burglary in North Carolina in 1985 • Only evidence they had was the victim’s testimony • Prosecution relied heavily on positive identification made by the victim Eyewitness Issues in Canada • In Canada, eyewitness identification difficulties were pushed to the forefront with the Sophonow Inquiry (2001) The Sophonow Case • Murder of Barbara Stoppel in Dec. 1981 in Winnipeg • Biased lineup, taller than most, yellow background, hat worn in photo • Thomas Sophnow was convicted and spent 4 years in prison • DNA exonerated him 15 years later • Public Inquiry into case Conclusions • It is critical that the criminal justice system use procedures that minimize the inherent dangers of eyewitness identification Eyewitness Memory • Recall – Stating what occurred during the crime – Providing a description of the criminal – Providing testimony in court – (e.g., like writing an essay on an exam) • Recognition – Lineup identification – Voice identification – (e.g., like multiple choice on an exam) Why Do Memory Errors Occur? • Memory is not like a “videotape” • It is continually being constructed • Some information may not have been encoded or stored in memory, other information may be lost, and yet other information may be altered and recalled incorrectly – Errors of omission (don’t provide info), commission (remember the wrong thing), forgetting (can’t access me
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