I pull back the curtain on Eyewitness Identification. Often the most powerful evidence presented in a criminal trial, mistaken identification is the overwhelming cause of the majority of wrongful convictions in this country. Jurors put a great deal of weight on this type of evidence yet in many jurisdictions there are very few protocols in place to ensure that this evidence is “collected,” “preserved” and “untainted” like there are for physical evidence.
Click here to read an article by Elizabeth Loftus and Gary Wells: “Eyewitness Memory for People and Events” which makes a compelling argument for the metaphor of treating human evidence like trace evidence in terms of developing guidelines to safeguard its accuracy.
Click here to read about the wrongful convictions overturned by the Innocence Project that were based on mistaken identification.
As referenced in the episode Jennifer Thompson was a rape victim who mistakenly identified Ronald Cotton as her attacker. DNA evidence cleared him and they forged a friendship that transcends their case as they work together for eyewitness identification reform. Their compelling story is told in the book Picking Cotton (mistakenly referred to in the podcast as a movie) See the book trailer below:
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Download AUDIO here (MP3)