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Witness for the Defense: The Accused, the Eyewitnesses, and the Expert Hardcover – 1 Mar 1991
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Explains why eyewitness identifications, usually damning, can be unreliable and can result in the conviction of innocent people.
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Coauthor Katherine Ketcham stated in the "Author's Note" of this 1991 book, "[This] is a collection of true stories based on Dr. Elizabeth Loftus's personal experiences as an expert witness. It is our goal to use these real-life courtroom dramas as a vehicle for conveying information about psychology in general and memory in particular... Although we have struggled to correct obvious biases and base our accounts on the known and undisputed facts, it is unavoidable that these retrospective interpretations contain memory flaws. We know all too well from the psychological research and the experience of writing this book that memory is not always the same thing as the truth." (Pg. xiii-xiv)
Loftus notes, "In my studies, a subject's reported confidence for suggested or imagined memories is often as great as that reported for memories based on actual perceptions... subtle differences do exist between perceived and suggested memories, but ... most people are unable to detect these differences. In other words, when people remember something, they tend to believe it's the truth. And when they describe their memories, their reports can be so realistic and detailed that someone listening (like a juror) tends to think that the memory is, in fact, real." (Pg. 117)
She states, "Should a psychologist in a court of law act as an advocate for the defense or as impartial educator? My answer to that question, if I am completely honest, is BOTH. If I believe a defendant is innocent, if I believe in his innocence with all my heart and soul, then I probably can't help but become an advocate of sorts." (Pg. 238)
They summarize about one case, "The State of Washington spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of man-hours in its attempt to prove that [the accused] was guilty, and in the end, after forty-one months, it failed. Theoretically, [he] is innocent, because the state failed in its attempt to prove guilt... But [his] reputation has been sullied in the three and a half years since he was first accused... there will always be people who believe that [he] got off on a technicality, that he slipped through the system because the system is too 'kind' to criminals." (Pg. 281)
This is an interesting book, that will be of particular value to anyone studying the "recovered memory" controversy.
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