The importance of eyewitness testimony cannot to be overstated. Eyewitness testimony has the ability to impact the minds and heart of the jury in a way that no other form of testimony can. Eyewitness testimony is so important that the need for eyewitnesses to a crime is part of almost every single law code that mankind has received starting with the Mosaic law code and then going through Roman law. It is also an important part of modern day law.
When an eyewitness tells a story to a jury, the emotion that they express as they talk to the jury comes across and can negatively or positively affect the outcome of a case. The story of an eyewitness is proof in the minds of many that a particular event occurred. In the case of criminal court, an eyewitness may help a jury determine who is responsible for a particular crime.
While there have been a lot of studies done to show that eyewitnesses are far from infallible in their testimony, as a general rule, eyewitness testimony, especially if it is gathered in the moments after an event occurred, is reliable. There may be some fluctuation in the details that are remembered by different people who saw the same event, but in most cases the overall story that is given is reliable. Even when an eyewitness is not called on to testify in court, the information they provide can serve as a way to help law enforcement officials decide which course to take as they attempt to pursue or to resolve an issue.
Eyewitness testimony is an important way to establish the order in which events happen. This is important when dealing with a jury because the only way that a jury is going to understand what happened is by first understanding how it happened. When an eyewitness explains an event, they can help other people understand the background information of how an incident played out.
This background information and sequential information provided by eyewitnesses serves as a way to establish the motive behind why a person did something. Once the motive behind someone’s actions is understood, then other aspects of the case can be solidified.
Expert witness services are another tool that lawyers can use when attempting to prove their case. Unlike eyewitnesses who merely saw an event take place, expert witnesses have the training and experience dealing with a particular subject, and they can present that subject to a jury in a clear and concise way. A good expert witness can add to the legitimacy of a case and sway the opinion of the jury.