The Statistics Seminar speaker for Wednesday, October 9, 2019, is Karen Kafadar, Commonwealth Professor and Chair of the Department of Statistics at the University of Virginia. Her research interests are: robust methods and exploratory data analysis with applications to physical, chemical, engineering, and biological sciences (Genomics, forensic science, randomized cancer screening trials, spatial data, particle physics experiments). She received her PhD in statistics from Princeton University.
Talk: Reliability of Eyewitness Identification as a Forensic Tool
Abstract: Among the 367 wrongful convictions identified by the Innocence Project that were later overturned by DNA evidence resurrected from the crime scene, 69% involved eyewitness testimony (www.innocenceproject.org). Courtroom identifications from an eyewitness can be tremendously powerful evidence in a trial. Yet memory is not a perfect video recording of events, and one's recollection of the events surrounding an incident is even less reliable. In October 2014, the National Academy of Sciences issued a landmark report evaluating the scientific research on memory and eyewitness identification. The Committee of researchers (psychologists, statisticians, sociologists) and judicial representatives (judges, attorneys) reviewed the published research on the factors that influence the accuracy and consistency of eyewitnesses' identifications, conducted via laboratory and field studies. I will describe the research on memory and recollection, the shortcomings in the statistical methods used in evaluating laboratory studies, and Committee recommendations aimed at standardizing procedures and informing judicial personnel of the factors that can have negative impacts on accuracy of eyewitness testimony. (The speaker was a member of the NAS Committee that issued the report.)