June 6, 2014

Eyewitness Evidence for Ohio Courtrooms

CLE Easy Pass eligible (3.0 CLE hours) - June 13 @ 1:30pm

by Jonathan P. Vallano, Ph.D.

Eyewitness testimony is arguably the most compelling evidence presented in criminal trials. A witness who identifies the defendant as the perpetrator is negatively perceived by jurors and likely to produce a guilty verdict. Unfortunately, eyewitnesses and their memories can be wrong. In fact, approximately 75% of wrongful convictions involving defendants exonerated by DNA evidence involve some form of eyewitness misidentification. For these reasons, nearly all states (including Ohio) allow expert testimony on factors that generally affect the accuracy of eyewitness identifications. Specifically, the admissibility of expert testimony on eyewitness memory is typically at the discretion of the trial court.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys should be knowledgeable about the factors that impact eyewitness memory in order to (1) evaluate the accuracy of the witness’s identification, (2) determine whether to call an expert on eyewitness memory, and (3) most effectively question the lay and expert witness on direct and cross-examination. To help attorneys address these issues, this seminar will initially discuss eyewitness memory and the myriad factors that affect its accuracy, including police interviewing techniques and lineup composition/administration. In addition, this seminar will discuss practical issues surrounding the courts’ reluctance to admit expert testimony on eyewitness evidence despite its immense impact on jury decision-making. Finally, we will discuss how to incorporate eyewitness evidence into overall case strategy, including a discussion of specific recommendations when conducting voir dire, preparing opening/closing arguments, and devising questions for the direct and cross examination of witnesses.

This 3.0 hour CLE program, “Psychology & Law Symposium: Expert Testimony on Eyewitness Evidence in Ohio Courtrooms” is scheduled for June 13 (1:30–4:45pm) and is CLE Easy Pass Eligible. Register for this program online or call (614) 221-4112.