Topic: Design

Last updated: October 23, 2019

Systematic changes to court procedures can increase accuracy and thus make our courts fairer. First of all, evidence that is a person’s memory can have less importance put on it. Witnesses are asked about details when details are one of the harder things to remember. Jurors should be aware of this and know that confident accounts are more likely to be distorted that vague accounts of an event. As for the interviewing of a crime victim, from the beginning bias by the interviewers should be minimized. Any details are important, versus a chronological account. Once a witness or victim gives their narrative they should then be asked questions. When a suspect line-up is performed, it needs to be designed to keep the fickleness of memory in mind.

Filler people presented should match the general description of the perp given by the victim. Witnesses should be informed that the true perpetrator may not be in the line-up at all. If possible, the design of the line-up should be double-blind. As for court proceedings, judges can help jurors by informing them of what effect misleading questions by attorneys might have. The questioning by attorneys can rile up retroactive and proactive interference with misleading questions. These misleading questions can imply that something is evidence when it really is not.

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Jurors should also know that an eyewitness is not completely reliable and that their biases and expectations can affect the memory in question. When it comes to memories, even traumatic ones, people fill in the gaps. When dealing with a witness and being presented with loads of information jurors should be allowed to take their own notes.


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