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-This week’s forum really hits home for me. I work in the legal community, and I guess I could say I have seen examples of distorted memory in many criminal cases. Sometimes the distortion is just an exaggeration of certain facts – whether the exaggeration is intentional or accidental, who am I to judge? The exaggerations tended to be against a person the witness did not like, like a drill instructor or a mean supervisor. And, unfortunately, I have listened to expert witnesses explain why some victims’ memories may be completely false or incorrectly reconstructed. It is heartbreaking because either the person really did experience the traumatic event, and they have to listen to a stranger convince a jury that they are fabricating a story; or on the other hand, nothing did happen but based on circumstantial evidence or provoking comments made by friends or family, they are led to believe something traumatic did happen to them.
One case in particular comes to mind. There was a young girl whose parents claimed she was sexually assaulted. Based on the testimony of expert witnesses, and what the appeals court ultimately determined, one of the parents took one of her comments out of context, applied her personal bias against the defendant to it, and reported it. There were several interviews of the young girl, and the expert psychologists for both sides at trial agreed that the forensic interviews for her were not conducted appropriately. The girl was never able to independently provide a narrative and her story was constructed based on prompts and repeated suggestions.
I thought this week’s lesson was very interesting and I became more knowledgeable in the memory field. I would really like to meet professor Elizabeth Loftus because she seems like a fun person to be around. I was shocked finding out that in 2002 she was ranked 58th out of 100 in the Review of General Psychology’s list. She was also the highest ranked women on this list. After reading through this week’s lesson and the LA Weekly website article I found several implications that human memory has on the use of eye-witness testimony in criminal and civil court cases. One implication is suggestibility. An example of suggestibility is when a witness is easily and often accidentally misled with misinformation from sources that ultimately leads to false memories. Another implication of human memory is the misinformation effect. Elizabeth Loftus developed the misinformation effect paradigm, which is described as holding the after exposure to incorrect information. By doing this a person could misremember the original event. Loftus states that an eyewitness’s memory of events can be very flexible due to the misinformation effect. False memories are another type of limitation of human memory that could affect an eye witness testimony. False memory syndrome relates to memories of events that do not have eye witnesses. Most of the time the only witnesses are the victim and perpetrator. In a criminal or civil court case, false memories could negatively affect the juror’s verdict. In 1993 John Briere and Jon Conte conducted a study on childhood sexual abuse. The results revealed that 59% of 450 men and women who received treatment for sexual abuse that happened before age 18 had forgotten their experiences. Elizabeth Loftus believes sexually abused victims can recover these memories through therapeutic techniques like hypnosis, age regression, and guided visualization. I mentioned before, I have become more knowledgeable in the memory field after reading this lesson. I look forward to ready the rest of the classes posts.
-There are several different kinds of limitations human memory could have one the use of eye witness testimony in civil and criminal court cases. There’s only so much research and investigation you can do with in a certain time frame before you have to conclude your findings with the court. False memory syndrome can go either way, whether it be victim, witness, or the one on trial. Memories, dreams and such, the whole mind is susceptible to manipulation. Whether it be drugs, alcohol, age, abuse, even dreams are manipulated.I have memories that I often question myself in my life. It just depends on the case. If a witness recants and due to any circumstance it’s because the memory was manipulated in some way. Each human mind is so very different, so there are many factors including health reasons. For example Traumatic Brain Injury occurring at any given time and point and any person in any case, the memory, the whole mind, vision etc could be possibly manipulated and or compromised. Another case could be the witness could possibly have been color blind and compromised what was seen as a witness. You can use a psychologist or you can use many forms of medical doctors, investigators, specialists until you get to the deadline to present your findings to the court. Short term memory loss, blindness, medication, and even genetics could also be implicated depending on the case. It’s an endless web of possibilities, however the goal is to achieve the truth or the closest thing to when it comes to science. That’s the side i’ll always stand on when it comes to civil or criminal court cases. Anywhere really. If science backs it up, I know it’s legitimate. I’m interested to hear what all of you have to take from this.