Picking Someone Out Of A Lineup

by Patrick Appel

Spurred on by a New Jersey Surpreme Court case, Adam Serwer reflects on the unreliability of eyewitnesses:

The most complex part of eyewitness misidentification … is the fact that people who wrongly identify someone are often really confident they've made the right choice–and that confidence is persuasive in court. The ruling notes that a previous ruling's observation that while “there is almost nothing more convincing [to a jury] than a live human being who takes the stand, points a finger at the defendant, and says ‘That’s the one!’” the fact is that "accuracy and confidence “may not be related to one another at all.” There's not necessarily any malice in this–it's simply an artifact of how our brains work.

Steve Chapman argues along the same lines.