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Worthlessness of Eyewitness Testimony
Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:35pm

This has finally begun to penetrate into the Byzantine world of the Courtroom.

Personally, as a son of TWO lawyers, having "grown up in the courtroom", I take the ultra-skeptical position:
Eyewitness testimony uncorroborated by physical evidence is almost totally worthless.

Identifications of strangers are the absolute worst kind of evidence, comparable to the use of tarot cards and necromancy in accuracy. If I were on a jury, I would utterly disregard any and all eyewitness identifications of strangers not backed by hard evidence such as:
video, fingerprint, DNA, marks (bruises, bullet holes, etc), bloodstains, bullets, guns, knives, cars, ...

Testimony concerning fleeting, non-recurring events, is of very low credibility, but not quite as bad as identification of strangers.

Only for repetitive, long-term events is eyewitness testimony credible: Bank teller says that she saw her boss remove money from teller drawers many times. Boss is not a stranger; event was repeated; etc. Or a woman claims that her husband beat her and she has the bruises to prove that she was beaten, plus her husband has the scraped knuckles, plus the neighbors saw it, etc, such a constellation of evidence is significant. If witness sees a robber shoot a victim, robber is pursued by police, captured, and disarmed, AND ballistics tests prove that the gun that he was carrying fired the guilty bullet, that is also a good case.

With weaker evidence that outlined in the previous above, my vote would be "not guilty" regardless of what the witnesses said.

"Eyewitness testimony usually consists of equal parts of mendacity, confabulation, and error; although once in a while a modicum of truth sneaks in."


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