chapter  8
17 Pages

Eliciting evidence from eyewitnesses for court proceedings

ByMark R. Kebbell, Elizabeth A. Gilchrist

Eyewitnesses are central to most court cases (Kebbell and Milne 1998; Zander and Henderson 1993). For example, a witness might state, ‘That is the man who robbed me, I’m certain of it!’ This is powerful evidence that provides not only information concerning who committed the offence but also the nature of the offence. Research shows that jurors rely heavily on eyewitness accounts to determine whether to convict or to acquit (e.g. Cutler et al. 1990). However, research into false convictions, for example where subsequent DNA evidence exonerates a convicted individual, shows that one of the most frequent reasons for a false conviction is erroneous witness evidence (Connors et al. 1996; Huff et al. 1996). Therefore, it is essential that accurate evidence is presented to a court.