Criteria for judging the admissibility of eyewitness testimony of long past events.

TitleCriteria for judging the admissibility of eyewitness testimony of long past events.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsHaber, L, Haber, RNorman
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
Volume4
Pagination1135
Abstract

Currently, court cases of recovered memories of childhood abuse, in which the victim’s testimony may constitute the only evidence available, and a growing body of research demonstrating the inexactitude and suggestibility of autobiographical memory of long past events, are forcing courts and cognitive scientists to seek scientific, principled criteria for admissibility of such testimony. We use as examples two recent court cases. In the first case, a concussion produced total retrograde amnesia for an accident for a period of three years, and then, over a few months, the driver claimed his memory returned. In the second, two adults reported to the police that they witnessed their sister’s murder 35 years earlier, when they were three and five years old, respectively. We provide objective guidelines for courts to determine whether testimony about recovered or very long term memory for eyewitnessed events should be admissible. The principles we outline easily can be expanded to include eyewitness testimony in general.

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