Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2475217
 


 



The Novel New Jersey Eyewitness Instruction Induces Skepticism But Not Sensitivity


Athan P. Papailiou


University of Arizona

David V. Yokum


University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law; University of Arizona - College of Science

Christopher T. Robertson


University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics; Harvard University - Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics

August 5, 2014

Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 14-17

Abstract:     
In recent decades, social scientists have shown that the reliability of eyewitness identifications is much worse than laypersons tend to believe. The courts have only recently begun to react to this evidence, and New Jersey has, in particular, reformed its instructions to jurors, notifying them about the frailties of human memory, the potential for lineup administrators to nudge witnesses towards suspects that they police have already identified, and the advantages of certain lineup procedures including blinding of the administrator.

Our experiment tested the efficacy of New Jersey’s real-world intervention. In a 2×2 between-subjects design, mock jurors (N = 335) watched a 35-minute murder trial, wherein identification quality was either “weak” or “strong” and either the New Jersey or a “standard” jury instruction was delivered. Jurors were less than half as likely to convict when the New Jersey instruction was used (OR = 2.55; 95% CI = 1.37 – 4.89, p < .001). The New Jersey instruction, however, did not improve juror's ability to discern quality; rather, jurors indiscriminatingly discounted “weak” and “strong” testimony in equal measure. Trial judges should consider only giving the instruction for weak eyewitness evidence, to thereby increase the diagnosticity of trials.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

Keywords: jury instruction, State v. Henderson, eyewitness testimony, diagnosticity

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Date posted: August 3, 2014 ; Last revised: August 7, 2014

Suggested Citation

Papailiou, Athan P. and Yokum, David V. and Robertson, Christopher T., The Novel New Jersey Eyewitness Instruction Induces Skepticism But Not Sensitivity (August 5, 2014). Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 14-17. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2475217 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2475217

Contact Information

Athan P. Papailiou
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States
David V. Yokum
University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )
P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States
University of Arizona - College of Science ( email )
1040 E. Fourth Street
Tucson, AZ 85721-0077
United States
Christopher T. Robertson (Contact Author)
University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )
P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.arizona.edu/faculty/getprofile.cfm?facultyid=714

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )
124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics ( email )
23 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 02155
United States
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