Some of the earliest research on eyewitness memory was conducted more than 100 years ago. Interest in research on eyewitness identification gained momentum with the growing realization that many wrongfully convicted individuals were mistakenly identified by confident – but incorrect – eyewitnesses.
Dr. Brian Cutler has conducted research on topics such as factors that influence the accuracy of eyewitness identification, the influence of suggestive eyewitness identification procedures on the risk of mistake eyewitness identification, and the effectiveness of safeguards designed to a prevent mistaken identification from resulting in a wrongful conviction.
Dr. Cutler's Research
- Author of Mistaken Eyewitness Identification: Eyewitnesses, Psychology & the Law;
- Oversaw the peer-review process of eyewitness research published in Law and Human Behavior during my term as Editor-in-Chief of the journal;
- Invited, reviewed, and accepted entries on eyewitness memory and related research in the Encyclopedia of Psychology and Law;
- Author of Evaluating Eyewitness Identification;
- Invited, reviewed and accepted chapters on eyewitness identification and related research for the edited volume Conviction of the Innocent: Lessons from Psychological Research;
- Invited, reviewed and accepted chapters on eyewitness identification research for the edited volume Reform of Eyewitness Identification Procedures;
- Authored articles on eyewitness identification in psychology journals, law reviews, and trial advocacy publications;
- Began a research program examining the link between the interrogation of eyewitnesses and false accusations of a suspect – the article describing our first experiment was published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology.
His research has been published in books, book chapters, and articles in peer-reviewed journals (see CV for a complete list of publications).
Dr. Cutler's Role as Consultant and Expert Witness
To educate the attorney, judge, and or jury about how eyewitness memory works in general and about how specific witnessing and identification conditions can influence the accuracy of eyewitness identification. He also often testifies about the relation between eyewitness confidence and accuracy and how confidence can change over time (e.g., an eyewitness can become more confident in her identification) even though identification accuracy has not changed. Dr. Cutler does not give opinions about the accuracy of eyewitness identifications in a specific case. His opinions are limited to psychological knowledge and research, and he strives to represent the knowledge and research base with balance and accuracy.
Experience as Consultant/Expert Witness
To date Dr. Cutler has consulted in more than 200 cases involving eyewitness memory. Most of these cases were criminal cases with the testimony being proffered by the defense. He has worked on appeals, habeas, and civil cases.
In most cases Dr. Cutler's opinions have concerned eyewitness identification, but he has also given opinions about factors that influence eyewitness memory for details, such as whether an object seen by an eyewitness was a gun or a more innocuous object, or details surrounding an accident. Recently Dr. Cutler consulted on the topic of age estimation in a case involving a convenience store clerk who was charged with selling a controlled substance to a minor. Dr. Cutler's opinions in that case involved peoples' abilities to accurately estimate the ages of strangers seen briefly and the factors that influence the accuracy of age estimates.