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Let’s Abandon Or Strictly Regulate Eyewitnesses Testimony In Criminal Trials

3927 words - 16 pages

Let’s Abandon or Strictly Regulate Eyewitnesses Testimony in Criminal Trials

David S. Smith

Behavioral Issues

Mike Eagen, MA

November 24, 2007

Let’s Abandon or Strictly Regulate Eyewitnesses Testimony in Criminal Trials

View: Eyewitness testimony is destroying our Criminal Justice System.

I. Get the facts: Eyewitness testimony is falsely incriminating people.

A. The legal profession well aware of eyewitness inconsistencies.

B. Eyewitness testimony has been removed from some foreign courts during criminal trials.

II. Establishing burden of proof.

A. What is evidence?

B. Who can testify?

C. Some problems associated with ...view middle of the document...

474-77). Research indicates that people will remember the same event differently, or that leading questions or presuppositions can often lead their memory in a different direction. Based upon research, when asked how “big” something is, people will typically remember an object as being bigger than it really was, as opposed to asking how “small” something is, in which case, people will respond by remembering something smaller than it was (Reich, 1993, pp.394-402).
There are all types of research that indicates eyewitness testimony as being heavily flawed or inconsistent. The judges and lawyers that are entrusted to make the system work sometimes either allow this to happen or try and use it to their advantage anyway they can. Why does American Evidence Law continue to allow eyewitness testimony to be such an overwhelming factor in establishing burden of proof? The rules of evidence vary throughout the world. In Great Britain, evidence law closely resembles its American descendant because the trial court practices remain nearly identical. Canada and Australia’s evidence laws are similar to the British. There is no jury trial in Western Europe. Across Europe witnesses are questioned by the judges rather than lawyers, to minimize disputes about what questions are permissible. In Eastern Europe judicial procedures resemble that of Western Europe. American evidence law stems from historic English practices derived from the precedent of judicial decisions. Although U.S. Federal courts and most states now have written codes, many rules for criminal cases still are found only in judicial interpretations of the U.S. Constitution. Anglo-American evidence law contains more detailed rules of proof than do other legal systems. This is largely attributable to the historic practice of trial by jury (G. Robert Blakey, 1994, pp. 1-7).
Evidence is defined as all means by which any alleged matter of facts is established or disapproved. It includes testimony, records, documents, objects, etc., that can be legally presented at trial for the purpose of inducing a belief in the minds of the court and jury as to the truth of the issue involved. Proof is the effect of evidence as it is derived from considering evidence and leads reasonable men to conclusions. Evidence is classified into three general categories; direct, circumstantial and real evidence. Direct evidence tends to show the existence of the facts in question which a witness knows of his own knowledge derived through one or more of his five senses-what he saw, heard, smelled, felt or tasted. Circumstantial evidence is that evidence that in itself does not directly prove the fact in issue, but establishes a certain fact or series of facts, which tend to prove certain elements of the case or question. Real evidence is furnished by objects which speak for themselves and require no explanation, merely identification. Real evidence may consist of a bloody shirt, weapon, tool or any other...

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