- Published: November 7, 2012
Recently, the Brooklyn district attorney's office reversed the assault conviction of Lawrence Williams, after the man served two years in prison, on the grounds of mistaken eyewitness testimony. This is a tragic tale that is all too often repeated.
One has to then ask what changes might be made to the system that would put an end to, or at least reduce, these remarkably frequent occurances. Neuroimaging is a budding field as far as admissible courtroom evidence is concerned, so it would probably not be immediately the most useful tool. There have been some moves to inform the jury of the fallibility of eyewitness testimony and its tendency towards inaccuracy. Some defense attorneys rely on expert witnesses from the ranks of cognitive scientists and neuroscientists to testify on their client's behalf that eyewitness testimony is flawed.
Unfortunately, there is no strict and widespread method that can catch every mistake. It would be extremely beneficial if legislators would work on protecting the accused and making sure only the guilty are imprisoned. The principles of this country's justice system is based on the idea of letting ten guilty men free so long as one innocent man was not wrongly imprisoned. It would be nice to see a return to that ideaology in this respect.