Witness for the Defense: The Accused, the Eyewitness, and the Expert Who Puts Memory on Trial

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Macmillan, Jul 15, 1992 - Law - 288 pages

"The study of memory had become my specialty, my passion. In the next few years I wrote dozens of papers about how memory works and how it fails, but unlike most researchers studying memory, my work kept reaching out into the real world. To what extent, I wondered, could a person's memory be shaped by suggestion? When people witness a serious automobile accident, how accurate is their recollection of the facts? If a witness is questioned by a police officer, will the manner of questioning alter the representation of the memory? Can memories be supplemented with additional, false information?"

The "passion" Loftus describes in the lines above led her to a teaching career at the University of Washington and, perhaps more importantly, into hundreds of courtrooms as an expert witness on the fallibility of eyewitness accounts. As she has explained in numerous trials, and as she convincingly argues in this absorbing book, eyewitness accounts can be and often are so distorted that they no longer resemble the truth.


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Dr. Loftus is a psychologist who specializes in memory and the impact of trauma, stress and time on it. She travels around the country testifying in trials for the defense and explains how eye witness ... Read full review

Witness for the defense: the accused, the eyewitness, and the expert who puts memory on trial

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Loftus, a psychologist and an expert on memory, has testified on the fallibility of eyewitness identification in over 150 trials during the last 16 years. Here she recounts her experiences as an ... Read full review

Selected pages


Trials of a Psychologist
The Magic of the Mind
The Cases
Dark Justice Steve Titus
The AllAmerican Boy Ted Bundy
A Knock in the Door Timothy Hennis
Out of the Mouths of Babes Tony Herrerez
I Couldnt Do This to a Child Howard Haupt
Sheer Stark Terror Clarence Von Briggs
Ivan the Terrible John Demjanjuk
A Mole and a Stutter Tyrone Briggs
Selected References

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About the author (1992)

Elizabeth Loftus is a professor of psychology and adjunct professor of law at the University of Washington in Seattle. For more than 20 years, she has conducted extensive research in the areas of human memory, eyewitness testimony and courtroom procedure. Loftus has served as an expert witness and consultant in hundreds of cases, including the McMartin PreSchool Molestation case, the Hillside Strangler case, the Michael Jackson case, the trial of Oliver North, and the trial of the Menendez brothers and has also worked on numerous cases involving allegations of "repressed memories." She has published over 250 journal articles and 18 books, including Eyewitness Testimony, which won the American Psychological Association's National Media Award in 1980, and most recently, The Myth of Repressed Memory. In 1983, she was invited to present her work to the Royal Society of London. Loftus has served as president of the Western Psychological Association in 1984 and has fulfilled leadership roles in numerous other organizations such as the American Psychological Association, Society of Experimental Psychologists, American Psychological Society, and Psychonomic Society.

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