Battling to a Draw: Defense Expert Rebuttal Can Neutralize Prosecution Fingerprint Evidence

Gregory Mitchell & Brandon Garrett (2021). Battling to a draw: Defense expert rebuttal can neutralize prosecution fingerprint evidence. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 35, 976-987. https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.3824

Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2022-01

Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2022-04

40 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2021 Last revised: 12 Jan 2022

See all articles by Gregory Mitchell

Gregory Mitchell

University of Virginia School of Law

Brandon L. Garrett

Duke University School of Law

Date Written: May 1, 2021

Abstract

The present study examined whether a defense rebuttal expert can effectively educate jurors on the risk that the prosecution’s fingerprint expert made an error. Using a sample of 1716 jury-eligible adults, we examined the impact of three types of rebuttal testimony in a mock trial: (a) a methodological rebuttal explaining the general risk of error in the fingerprint-comparison process; (b) a new-evidence rebuttal concluding the latent fingerprint recovered in this case was not suitable for use in a comparison; (c) a new-evidence rebuttal excluding the defendant as the source of the latent fingerprint. All three rebuttals significantly altered perceptions of the prosecution’s fingerprint evidence, but new-evidence rebuttals proved most effective. The effectiveness of the rebuttals depended, however, on whether jurors were more concerned about false acquittals or false convictions.

Keywords: fingerprint evidence, forensic evidence, juror decision-making, expert testimony, battle of experts, inoculation

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Gregory and Garrett, Brandon L., Battling to a Draw: Defense Expert Rebuttal Can Neutralize Prosecution Fingerprint Evidence (May 1, 2021). Gregory Mitchell & Brandon Garrett (2021). Battling to a draw: Defense expert rebuttal can neutralize prosecution fingerprint evidence. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 35, 976-987. https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.3824, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2022-01, Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2022-04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3984977

Gregory Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-243-4088 (Phone)

Brandon L. Garrett

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States
919-613-7090 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.brandonlgarrett.com/

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