The Legitimacy of Spectral Evidence During the Salem Witchcraft Trials
34 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2015 Last revised: 25 Aug 2015
Date Written: 2013
This paper looks at the use of spectral evidence during the Salem witch trials and examines whether its use was legitimate and in accordance with the evidential standards of the time (1692). Ultimately this paper finds that the use of spectral evidence was legitimate as it followed the slim guidelines available at the time. The court followed a strong precedent and the limited statutory guidance and instructions that were available. However there was acknowledgement at the time that spectral evidence was limiting the rights of those accused and was leading to unjust convictions. As such these trials invoked an acknowledgement of more modern standards of evidence. Therefore spectral evidence was legitimately used given the guidelines of the time despite the unjust effect that it had.
Keywords: Salem, witchcraft trials, spectral evidence
JEL Classification: K14, K33, K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation