4 short essays
Eyewitness Testimony II
Eyewitness identification depends on, among other factors, system variables. These are factors that influence the accuracy of eyewitness testimony and indeed fall within the jurisdiction and control of the criminal justice system. System variables occur after the incident and are concerned with the storage and retrieval stages of memory. Examples include police interviewing techniques and identification parades. Summarily, system variables define the capacity of investigatory procedures utilized by criminal justice systems to gather descriptive, accurate and identification evidence.
Under eyewitness identification, descriptive evidence involves the process of interviewing witnesses in order to gather important evidence about the incident. However, it is noteworthy that witness memories can be contaminated. The three things that contaminate witness memories include the media, witnesses and police. Accordingly, cognitive interviewing, as a technique of police interviewing, was developed as a panacea for the above-mentioned problems. It takes the form of developing rapport with the witness, requesting for recall, asking follow up questions, summary of the recall (including additional information) and closing the interview. Cognitive interviewing in essence envisages a four-stage technique with five steps.
Finally, eyewitness identification includes identification evidence and parades. These are the identification of persons of interest from photographs or physically. However the issues of the unfairness of misidentifications have been acknowledged as these have occasioned the greatest numbers of wrongful convictions. There are six suggestive and unfair biases encountered during these parades and they stem from clothing, investigators, presentation, foil, expectation and instruction. Therefore four good-line practices have been developed to cure the above defects and the y include who conducts the parade, instructions, structure of the parade and obtaining confident statements. Blank, sequential and simultaneous ID parades have also been used to enhance the credibility of ID parade evidence. Other key aspects of ID parades include Relative judgments, Absolute Judgments and Signal Detection theories.
Essay Two and Three: Investigative Interviewing I and II
This limb of the essay deals majorly with confessions and false confessions. Confessions, as one of the strongest forms of evidence admissible at trial occur when a person admits guilt of an offence. False confessions occur when innocent parties admit guilt. There are three types of false confessions. The first is voluntary forced confession- given in the absence of any external pressure (e.g. to impress a person). The second is coercive-complaint- given in order to avoid an aversive condition or to gain a favorable outcome. The third is coerced-internalized- given when a person believes having likely committed the crime but having no memory of the same.
As a panacea to the issue of false confessions, a nine-step approach of interrogation and interviewing has been developed to break the resistance of guilty persons of interest and incorporates the maximization and minimization techniques. The previous technique uses exaggerated claims about the crime and is mostly intended for hard-core persons, while the latter utilizes underplaying of the seriousness of the crime, and is intended for emotional and remorseful persons. However, like any other human institution, the nine-step technique of interrogation and interviewing is not without shortcoming or concern. The concerns range from trickery, pressure and resentment to obtaining of false confessions. There are five suggestions on how to prevent false confessions: One, reduction of pressure to confess and trickery; two, recording interviews; three, the presence of solicitors to prevent unfairness; four, identifying and assisting vulnerable persons of interest; and five, collection of additional and corroborative evidence.
This limb of the essay deals with investigative interviewing and PEACE. The Home Office in the England and Wales developed the PEACE principles of investigative interviewing in order to obtain accurate, fair and reliable accounts during interviews among other aims. The five stages of PEACE include Preparation and Planning, Engaging and Explaining, Accounting, Closure and Evaluation. The other techniques of investigative interviewing include free recall, cognitive interviewing, and enhanced cognitive interviewing and conversation management. Free recall is the technique that is used for cooperative witnesses and persons of interest (interviewee led). Cognitive interviewing, as briefly discussed in the preceding paragraphs, involves recreating the context, focusing the attention, multiple retrieval attempts and varied retrievals. Conversation management technique is used with uncooperative witnesses and persons of interest and in interviewer-led. The enhanced cognitive interviewing technique involves nine phases of personalizing the interview and establishing rapport, explaining the aims of the interview, free narratives, questions, varied and extensive retrievals, questions on important aspect of investigation, summary, closure and evaluation.
There are four elements of a good interviewing protocol, which protocols are intended at providing guidance during the various stages of investigative interviewing. The first is good rapport, which means developing a trusting relationship with the interviewee by understanding, accepting, non-coercing and non-judging. The second protocol is clear description of the rules. Here, the interviewer clearly describes their investigative needs and volunteers all truthful information. The third protocol is adopting an open-ended style of questioning and the last is the exploration of alternative hypotheses and avoiding assumptions.
Essay Four: Jury Decision Making
Under the major tenet of due process, there must be a hearing and it must be fair. Due process guarantees the neutrality and impartiality of trials and envisages six key elements. These are to do with Notice, Publicity, Standard of Proof, Rules of Evidence, Impartiality, and Trial by Jury and Avenues for Appeal.
Under trial by jury, there are four methods of jury research. Case studies, mock jury studies, shadow jury studies and post-deliberation studies. All these incorporate internal validity but lack ecological validity. A key issue in jury decision making has to do with the factors influencing jury decision making. Firstly, the jury size and decision rule affect decisions. A jury with twelve members as opposed to two is likely to recall more evidence and make better deliberations, and while unanimous decision juries are said to take longer. The second factor influencing jury decision making is inadmissible evidence; thirdly, pre-trial publicity; fourthly, expert testimony; fifthly, defendant characteristics and lastly, victim and witness characteristics.
In order to counter the biasing effects of information that has not been formally admitted into evidence, there are three widely agreed procedural safeguards. The first safeguard is Voir dire, which is the exclusion of jurors who are considered as being partial. The second safeguard is judicial instructions. These are specific directions given to jurors, like the direction to disregard any non-evidentiary information. The third and last safeguard is jury deliberation. Continuance is a suggested safeguard. However, empirical research has shown that it increases bias.