False memory syndrome court cases

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false memory syndrome court cases

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Published 06.05.2019

Church Sex Scandal: False Memories, False Justice

of a repressed memory that someone has later recalled has contributed to some investigations and court cases, including.


The capability of adult and child witnesses to accurately recollect events from the past and provide reliable testimony has been hotly debated for more than years. Prominent legal cases of the s and s sparked lengthy debates and important research questions surrounding the fallibility and general reliability of memory. But what lessons have we learned, some 35 years later, about the role of memory in the judicial system? In this review, we focus on what we now know about the consequences of the fallibility of memory for legal proceedings. We present a brief historical overview of false memories that focuses on three critical forensic areas that changed memory research: children as eyewitnesses, historic sexual abuse and eyewitness mis identification. We revisit some of the prominent trials of the s and s to not only consider the role false memories have played in judicial decisions, but also to see how this has helped us understand memory today.

M any of those working in our legal system have such a poor understanding of the nature of human memory that miscarriages of justice are an almost inevitable consequence, according to a book published today by the British False Memory Society. Miscarriage of Memory , edited by William Burgoyne, Norman Brand, Madeline Greenhalgh and Donna Kelly, presents factual accounts of prosecutions in the UK that were based entirely upon memories of sexual abuse recovered during therapy in the absence of any supporting evidence. Typically such cases occur when a vulnerable individual seeks help from a psychotherapist for a commonly occurring psychological problem such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and so on. At this stage, the client has no conscious memories of ever being the victim of childhood sexual abuse and is likely to firmly reject any suggestion of such abuse. To a particular sort of well-meaning psychotherapist, however, such denial is itself evidence that the abuse really did occur.

This site uses cookies to improve your experience and deliver personalised advertising. You can opt out at any time or find out more by reading our cookie policy. I n February , Julia Shaw received a call from a lawyer regarding a criminal case. It involved two sisters who, in , had given the police vivid descriptions of being sexually abused by a close female relative. They alleged that the abuse had taken place between and The lawyer, who was representing the defendant, wanted Shaw's input as an expert witness. Shaw, a criminal psychologist at the London South Bank University, was struck by how unusual the scenario was.

All 53 of the cases in this file involve claims in legal proceedings. Some cases are criminal, some are civil, and a few are administrative or involve an estate. The criminal cases all resulted in either a guilty verdict or a guilty plea. The civil cases all resulted in either a civil judgment or a civil settlement. The cases included pre-trial discovery on the facts, and often full-blown adjudication. In short, the corroboration in these cases has been scrutinized and in many cases verified through a legal proceeding. Mathes U.


  1. Magin P. says:

    Courtesy of Charles C.

  2. Kentrell E. says:

    Legal Cases (53)

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  4. Ilda R. says:

    Recovered Memory Project » Legal Cases (53)

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