• Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
  • Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
  • Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
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Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases

Eyewitness Testimony – What Is It? If two individuals stand as witnesses of the same event, will their testimonies be the same? Will they tell and describe the event that transpired without any contradictions? When a person witnessed a crime, untoward incident, or other events that need legal support, a testimony from the eyewitness is necessary. The eyewitness will later appear before the court and tell the details of what he/she witnessed on that fateful day. The entire process may be more complicated than initially presumed. It involves describing the things that happened while the crime was in progress. It also includes everything that happened between the time the event or crime concluded and the time that the witness made an appearance in the courtroom. The policemen and lawyers may interview the eyewitness, who should describe the perpetrator to several people. The eyewitness is expected to identify the perpetrator and other things that the policemen and lawyers may require from him.  The Testimony of an Eyewitness Is Vital in Psychological Research – Why? The eyewitness must stand before the court and narrate what transpired on the day… Read More

Eyewitness Memory and Misidentification at Trial

When forensic psychology was being established in the late 1870s, among the top topics that got scrutinized was the examination of eyewitness memory. According to the website of History of Forensic Psychology, Albert Von Schrenk-Notzing was the first psychologist to play the role of expert witness during a court hearing in 1896. The case being tried was about a man who allegedly murdered three women. Based on his research on memory and the human mind’s inclination to suggestions of others, Von Schrenk-Notzing claimed that publicity before the trial had a significant effect on witness memory which made it difficult to differentiate what the press reported and what was actually witnessed. Cognitive Processes Documented research on eyewitness memory often falls within the more comprehensive cognitive processes category. The cognitive process pertains to the various means the human mind interprets the world surrounding it. This is done by perusing different mental skills such as perception, thinking, awareness, memory, judgment, and reasoning. Although we can only infer cognitive processes and we can’t see them directly, they can have practical associations from a legal perspective. If we admit that the process… Read More

What Does Forensic Psychology Make of the Jacksonville Landing Shooting?

Anyone who has ever played a video game or been in the same house with people who do play is aware that player participation can become tense. But video game competitions aren’t usually on the list for sporting events that are likely to erupt into violence. But on a Sunday afternoon, August 26th of 2018, a young man from Baltimore created a “first” in video gaming. He used a handgun to open fire on the active players, murdering two and injuring many more. The event was unique in a lot of ways. As is normal for events such as the EA Madden Championship series, the competition was being broadcast via Twitch. Twitch is a program that allows video games to be recorded and broadcast while being played. Another interesting aspect of this event is that local law enforcement sent warnings out over social media, especially Twitter for people to stay away from the area, and for those who had found shelter to stay put until official help could reach them. “Do not run out from hiding,” the notices read. Video game competitions have become big business. EA’s… Read More

Veterinary Pathologists as Forensic Experts

What do an abused beagle and a battered wife have in common? Why would it be useful to have samples of confiscated black rhino horn and illegal ivory carvings? When is the death of a bald eagle a crime, and when is it a natural event? These questions and more can be answered by veterinary pathologists who act as forensic experts. Veterinary Forensics Dr. Melinda Merck, D.V.M., explains, “Vets are natural detectives. We have to figure it out … every time a patient comes in.” She began her interest in forensic veterinary pathology early in her career after treating a kitten the owners claimed had been damaged under a sink. The injuries were consistent with beating. In a later case, when a woman brought in her dog who had been stabbed by her boyfriend, a little investigation turned up clues that the boyfriend was also abusing the woman. But veterinary pathology doesn’t stop there. They are called upon to determine whether the death of an endangered animal was caused by a human or whether it was injured or killed accidentally. A recent article about veterinary pathology begins… Read More

Some Forensic Alertness Can Be Practiced by Anyone

Boredom Therapy is one of those crazy Internet ad/story websites that require visitors to click through several pages to get a heartwarming story about a child, a dog, a cat, a wild animal or the elderly. One of their stories details an incident where a Walmart service desk worker was alert and used her forensic instincts to help an elderly man. The story details an elderly fellow who was just getting ready to celebrate Christmas with his grand kids when he gets a call. “Papaw, I had a wreck and I need bail money to get out of jail.” The old man, Cecil, lived alone, and for him, family was everything. He quickly rushed around, got the money and went to Walmart to send the money. But when he got there, he shared his story with Audrella, the cashier on duty. “I’m not going to send this money,” she said. “I think you’ve been scammed.” She suggested that before he did anything, he should call his daughter and ask about the grandson. Sure enough, there had not been a vehicle accident and the young man in question… Read More

Forensics, Schools and Election Year

Even numbered years are usually election years, and 2018 is no exception. Among other offices under consideration this year are several openings in Parkland school board in Broward County. School board elections are not usually so heated, but this one reflects the emotional atmosphere left by the Parkland school shooting. A Little Background On February 14, 2018, troubled 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire in a high school in Parkland, Florida. Before his shooting spree was over, he murdered seventeen people and wounded seventeen others. When he was done, he calmly ditched the gun and blended in with the students as they left the school. He then went to Walmart and purchased a soda from the Subway there, then went on to McDonald’s where he purchased food. He was subsequently arrested in the Coral Springs district, having been identified from the school surveillance tapes and eye-witnesses. He has since confessed. Aftermath Although school shootings have occurred in frightening numbers since 1999 despite tightened school security, they are still occurring. The Parkland shooting was so horrific that a $75,000 grant for bereavement counseling was given to the community. It… Read More

Forensics, Confidentiality & The Law

Confidentiality and the Law “Protecting my sources” has long been a vital part of news reporting. Confidentiality is often also claimed by physicians, counselors, and the clergy. How far that can go and whether or not information can be requested for a legal proceeding of has long been a hotly contested arena for debate. There are, however, some commonsense solutions to whether or not confidential information should be admissible in a court of law or revealed for any purpose. Develop proof through other means. This is where forensic investigation shines. It can produce evidence that relies on the physical items at the scene of a crime, rather than on witnesses. While not completely infallible because the information is open to interpretation, it is a far more reliable resource that many other options. Create a clear legal covenant between the recipient of the information and the informant, laying out the circumstances under which information must be revealed to authorities. A well-known example of this is that teachers and counselors are mandated to report suspected child abuse. Clients who visit a counselor should be advised that if their interaction… Read More

Fishing in Heraclitus’ River: An Examination of Criminal Psychology and Rehabilitation

Who was Heraclitus and why would his river have anything to do with criminal psychology or rehabilitation? Here’s an examination of some ideas that revolve around Heraclitus’ most famous saying, advances in criminal psychology and rehabilitation. Heraclitus, a Greek Philosopher Heraclitus was a Greek philosopher who said that we could never wade in the same river twice. He was referring, on one level, to the way water washes past the land and that the droplets that are there one moment are gone away downstream the next. Advances in Criminology An article written for the journal, European Psychology, entitled Heraclitus’ River and Advances in Criminology by Alexander F. Schmidt and Ruth E. Mann, suggest that “advance” might be overstating the study of criminology. They contend that many of the practices currently in use were around during the 19th century. Some of them have, they add, have proven useful, while others that are still in use are less than efficacious in reducing crime or making productive citizens out of criminals. They lay out several types of crime but focus on sex offenders – a group that is often considered… Read More

What is Forensic Psychology?

It might be easier to define forensic psychology by starting out with what it is not. It is not forensic science. Forensic science is what is seen on television when detectives tweeze hairs out of a blood stain or lift fingerprints off a glass. It is not a Vulcan mind meld that allows the psychologist to peer into the depths of the human brain by analyzing behavior – although behavior certainly comes into it. Most of all, it is not the means by which long-buried secrets can be unearthed, but its results can be exciting. Education Requirements Although some colleges are now offering forensic psychology as a dual major, featuring psychology and law, the usual path is to gain an advanced degree in psychology, usually a PhD or PsyD. From that point, it is simply a matter of adding on legal training for the forensic part of forensic psychology. However, it should be noted, that some psychologists might participate in FP activities as part of their psychology position. For example, a school counselor might assist with determining which parent in a family is more suited to taking… Read More

Confessions, Forensic Psychology, and DNA Evidence

One of the tasks of a forensic psychologist is to interview an alleged perpetrator who has given a confession with an eye toward judging whether the person understands the gravity of having confessed and whether he or she understands what it is that has been confessed. It has been discovered that confessions are not always the last word in accuracy and that they can be extracted in a variety of ways. Once there is a confession, efforts to locate new or contradictory evidence concerning a case might be diminished or completely cease. A Famous Example For example, Juan Rivera confessed to the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in Lake County, Illinois. However, the DNA evidence taken from the girl didn’t match Rivera’s. The prosecution theorized that she had had consensual sex with someone else and that Rivera had killed her in a fit of rage when he was unable to perform. Rivera was convicted. Fortunately, the story has a somewhat better ending than might be expected. Two weeks later the appellate court threw out the confession, and Rivera was not only exonerated, he was awarded… Read More