‘Common Law’: The Psychology of Eyewitness Memory
Psychologist Elizabeth F. Loftus, one of the nation’s leading experts on memory, discusses her work and how it transformed the justice system on the latest “Common Law,” a podcast of the University of Virginia School of Law.
Loftus kicked off a revolution in how courts and the public think about the reliability of eyewitness testimony, starting with her seminal 1979 book “Eyewitness Testimony.” Her early experiments, which unlike prior memory studies asked participants to recount realistic or actual events, revealed how memories can be changed by things you are told or other post-event information. The research opened the door to allowing experts to testify on the reliability of eyewitness memory and spurred a wave of further study revealing how malleable memories can be.
Loftus is currently a Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Irvine, where she holds positions with the Departments of Psychological Science and Criminology, Law & Society, and is a professor of law. She has testified in hundreds of court cases, including that of the Hillside Strangler, the Abscam cases, the trial of the officers accused in the Rodney King beating, the Menendez brothers and the Oklahoma bombing case, and litigation involving Michael Jackson, Martha Stewart and the Duke University lacrosse players.
Loftus and hosts Risa Goluboff and Gregory Mitchell also discuss false and repressed memories, best practices for police interrogation, and the George Franklin case that is now a Showtime documentary, “Buried.”
This season, called “Co-Counsel” features a rotating set of co-hosts: Mitchell, Danielle Citron, John C. Harrison and Cathy Hwang. Each is joining Goluboff to discuss cutting-edge research on law topics of their choice.
Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.