Cheers & Jeers

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Jeers: to the unexpected infallibility of seeing something with your own eyes. In what’s likely to become a growing trend in courts, the New Jersey Supreme Court has handed down new guidelines to that state’s judges on how to prepare jurors for the fact that eyewitnesses can be grossly mistaken about what — and who — they think they’ve seen. New Jersey judges wil be expected to caution jurors that distance, stress and lighting can crucially affect eyewitness identification. “Human memory is not foolproof,” the instructions say, according to the New York Times. “Research has revealed that human memory is not like a video recording that a witness need only replay to remember what happened. Memory is far more complex.” The guidelines also spell out that interaction with police officers and other witness may crucially alter what eyewitnesses remember, and give judges the grounds to disallow eyewitness testimony that may have been unduly influenced by that contact.

Cheers: to the bare naked truth. Meanwhile, in other American court news, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge David Rees has ruled that when airline passenger John Brennan stripped naked during an airport security check, he was simply exercising his constitutionally protected right to protest. The judge dismissed indecent exposure charges against Brennan, who said he stripped to protest the infringement of his privacy by Portland International Airport security staff. Photos and video of the protest are widely available online: just search “John Brennan” in Google News. Titillation, it ain’t. Folks, please don’t try this at St. John’s International while you’re waiting for the next flight of the Fort McMurray express. Just keep the liquids in the requisite plastic bag and keep the line moving. Politely.

Cheers: to fun with words. While looking up famous sayings by Albert Einstein for last Saturday’s editorial, we came across these beauties. (They didn’t fit the editorial in question, but they’re still well worth repeating.) First, “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” And, somewhat in the same vein of relativity, “As far as I’m concerned, I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue.”

Jeers: to lessons unlearned. A photograph surfaces of a search and rescue team parking their helicopter by a Labrador lake while they stop to catch a few fish, a reward for a job well done in Jamaica. A spokesman for National Defence argues to CBC, in part, that learning fishing skills is part of the squadron’s survival training. You cannot possibly make this stuff up.

Organizations: New Jersey Supreme Court, New York Times, Portland International Airport Google News National Defence CBC

Geographic location: New Jersey, Multnomah County, Fort McMurray Labrador Jamaica

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  • W Bagg
    July 23, 2012 - 21:05

    well, I guess you cannot possibly convict anyone in New Jersey unless you have DNA. Beyond a reasonable doubt, REASONABLE, in my opinion, unless someone gives eyewitness testimony or DNA evidence exists, I couldn't convict anyone. Because reasonably, it could have been anyone else.

  • Keith
    July 23, 2012 - 11:56

    "I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue." So, would an adherent to that principle prefer the silence of Joe Paterno to the verbal indignation of a Christopher Hitchens or Bill Maher? Shame on those who would.

  • saelcove
    July 23, 2012 - 10:47

    Mike you are so right,

  • Mike
    July 23, 2012 - 08:33

    what exactly are you jeering re: the New Jersey Supreme Court? Maybe you assumed people would read the "Jeers" next to the item and fill in the blanks? At any rate, if you're going to complain about something, it wouldn't hurt to explain what it is you find problematic. Eye witness accounts, without other evidence supporting them, have been shown to lead to false identifications and unjust convictions in courtrooms across North America and the Commonwealth. This isn't to say they should be excluded but they shouldn't be taken at face value. I fail to see what's so troublesome about judges instructing juries on the nature and reliability of eyewitness testimony. You might want to look into an issue before you make vague condemnations. Here's a start: http://agora.stanford.edu/sjls/Issue%20One/fisher&tversky.htm or http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=101831 or http://www.law.yale.edu/news/2727.htm - took me a minute and a half to find those articles. It's called google.

    • Eli
      July 23, 2012 - 16:16

      Maybe if some of these cases were brought before subject judge within days rather than years, witness testimony could and would stand. But defence lawyers know time dims recollection and too many hoodlums or murderers are set free. Keep that in mind too Judge.