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Identifications of People Shown in Videos and Photos – What You Need to Know (Zoom Program)

Tuesday, June 11, 2024 | 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT

This is a Zoom program.

Moderated by: Retired Superior Court Judge Douglas H. Wilkins

As surveillance camera quality improves, the courts increasingly encounter efforts to identify individuals through witnesses who did not see the events, but who believe that a video or photo depicts someone they know to some degree. In addition, juries and judges are likely to review photographic and video evidence and come to their own conclusions about the people shown in the images.

Many questions arise about the competence of both the witness and the factfinder: How reliable are such identifications and juror assessments? Do photos or videos offer a relatively objective way to identify a person or does outside information skew the outcome? What do we commonly assume about the reliability and objectivity of such identifications – and do those assumptions line up with the findings of social scientists and researchers? Are there ways to improve jurors’ (and judges’) assessment of witness reliability and of their own ability to draw conclusions from a photo?

Dr. Nancy Franklin will review the research and offer a perspective on these questions. The conclusions may surprise you. This Zoom program will also include a short review of the limited case law in this area and a brief update on the progress of the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Eyewitness Identification.

Nancy Franklin, PhD, is a faculty member in the Stony Brook University Psychology Department. Her training is in cognitive psychology, and her specific research interests include memory and eyewitness error.

In 2008, shortly after a major New York State Court of Appeals decision calling for eyewitness identification experts in court, she accepted an invitation to testify as an expert in a robbery case in Manhattan. She has been invited since that time onto several hundred cases in various jurisdictions of New York and in other states.

She regularly donates her time to assist in reexamining cases, some of them decades old, that are suspected to have produced wrongful convictions through witness error or coerced confessions. She has also given dozens of public and academic presentations discussing how well-understood psychological principles can lead to errors in the criminal justice system and the measures we can take to reduce these errors.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2024
4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
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Flaschner Judicial Institute
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