CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Saturday, November 3, 2007

CrimProf Rob Bretz Discusses Witness Memory Accuract Over Time

Bretz2 From Thomas Cooley Law School CrimProf Rob Bretz recently discussed the 28 year time delay in a murder trial and its effect on witness accuracy in recalling what happened. 

CrimProf Bretz said that's the proper strategy for prosecutors to emphasized with jurors that by and large, witnesses are telling the same story and that they only differ on the details. This is because studies show that people who have witnessed the same event will tell different stories years later.

"We tend to distort our memory over time," Bretz said. "It's not intentional. It's just something that happens."

Bretz said that if all the witnesses were telling identical stories, that would be a cause for concern.

"If the details all matched up, I would have problems with that," he said.

Bretz also said that it shouldn't be a problem for jurors either that there was little forensic evidence to offer at trial as long as it is sufficiently explained to them why some evidence, such as DNA, was unavailable. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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