Eyewitness: How Accurate Is Visual Memory? – CBS News

This is why eyewitness testimony is often way too heavily relied upon in court cases: visual memory, untrained, is way too unreliable; the pre-trial and investigatory practices of police and prosecutors often biases and misleads even the eye-witnesses into being way too certain of their own identification in court, causing juries to rely on them too heavily; and that doesn’t even take into account biases that might cause an eye-witness to lie about an identification. One often hears complaints that the case against a defendant is just circumstantial, that there were no witnesses, as if that were a bad thing, but unless the culprit is well known to the witness, the witness got a good,  long, full-face look at the culprit in good light actually doing the deed, a circumstantial case may be the stronger case than one that relies mostly upon eye-witness testimony. Gloves that don’t fit notwithstanding, circumstances rarely lie; people often do.

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