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Unintentionally False Eyewitness Testimony

In May 2015, a suspect who attacked an NYPD officer with a hammer was shot by police in the middle of the day, on a crowded New York City street. There were many eyewitnesses to the incident. Almost all of the witness reports were incorrect. Several people inaccurately reported that the police officers shot an unarmed man while he was on the ground and handcuffed. The incident was recorded on surveillance video, which documents that the suspect attacked one of the officers with a hammer and that officer’s partner shot the man. Why is eyewitness memory flawed? How can attorneys use psychology to explore and explain issues common to eyewitness testimony throughout trial? This presentation explores the psychology of memory and techniques specific to addressing these issues starting with jury selection. Particular attention is paid to difficult witnesses including children, the elderly, and victims of sexual assault.

 

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