Thursday, April 30, 2015
This situation is pretty prevalent in movies: the eyewitness to a crime is brought to a police station to sit behind a one-way mirror, then asked to identify the assailant. Or, the eyewitness enthusiastically points his finger directly to the accused in court, with the alleged perpetrator sitting beside his defense attorney. Several cross-examination procedures later, the witness picks out the right person ten times out of ten. However, the credibility of witnesses in popular media is sadly overblown. While it is truly compelling for a witness to literally point to a suspect and positively identify the latter, eyewitness accounts are nearing the end of their usefulness; more so with a growing body of evidence undermining their reliability.