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Best Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys | Eyewitness Identification In Cold Cases

Despite many studies showing the fallibility of eyewitness testimony it is a still the main way that the accused are convicted of serious crimes. As much as we would like to believe that the advances in DNA technology will prevent the innocent from going to prison as Seattle criminal defense attorneys we know that is not often the case. Human systems are fallible and “eyewitness testimony” is some of the most often in error. The Crowley Law Firm of Seattle and Yakima also practicing in Eastern Washington, Tacoma and at the federal appeals level has seen how often eyewitness testimony can be in error. This is especially important in cases often called “cold cases,” where witnesses may be relying on recollections that are 10, 15 or even 20 years ago.

One of the most prevalent ways that eyewitness testimony can be influenced is if the police already know the accused. A paper from Yale Law School illustrates this point:

“Studies have shown, for example, that if the police who conduct the identification procedures have knowledge of the case and its suspect, they will inevitably influence the eyewitness’s memory of the perpetrator in the direction of identifying the suspect. A “double blind” investigation, where both the interrogator and the witness are unaware of the facts of the investigation or the identity of the suspect, is far more likely to produce a reliable identification.

Yet no police department in the country employs this safeguard: The police who investigate the case also interview the witness about the identity of the culprit. If there is a suspect, the interrogator of the witness virtually always knows who that suspect is.” You can read the entire paper here.

Inside the pages of the Crowley Law Firm site you can find many instances where on the face of the case as presented by the prosecutor and the media turn out to a jury’s eyes be dead wrong. Read some of these major cases handled by the Crowley Law Firm here.

Many of the studies of this type of witness mis-identification makes for interesting reading for the both the layman and those who may have been charged with a serious felony. They also make up the bulk of the many cable television shows which examine serious crimes where the case that is presented to the jury is not always what it seems. Studies have shown that the introduction of 3rd party intervention can seriously alter the recollection of an eyewitness or as stated in a Stanford paper on the law and eyewitness testimony: “Courts, lawyers and police officers are now aware of the ability of third parties to introduce false memories to witnesses. For this reason, lawyers closely question witnesses regarding the accuracy of their memories and about any possible “assistance” from others in the formation of their present memories.” This paper titled “The Problem With Eyewitness Testimony” from the Stanford Law Journal points up this and many other issues with recollection and memory that go into the making of “eyewitness testimony.”

Successful trial lawyers use their courtroom skill and cross-examination techniques to get to the bottom of what the eyewitness “really” saw and what in the eyewitness testimony may not be eyewitness recollection at all, but supposition or elements introduced by another party. The Crowley Law Firm has handled and defended in many cold cases where the eyewitness may not be reliable at all. The jury can be trusted to factor in these mis-identifications when a case is presented by an experienced lawyer. The principal of the Crowley Law Firm, John Crowley, is just such an experienced trial attorney in cases of serious crimes. Experienced Seattle defense attorneys from The Crowley Law Firm have handled cases such major felony cases for over 20 years.