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Handbook for the Forensic Psychologist,

Psychiatrist and Attorney


Second Edition


R. Edward Geiselman, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology

University of California, Los Angeles




This book is tailored to meet the needs of lawyers and social scientists who are interested in the prospect of applying forensic research on eyewitness performance in legal proceedings. With the recent federal and state Supreme Court rulings on expert evidence and the proper criteria for admissibility, it has become increasingly important that trial lawyers become sophisticated in the methods and procedures of science. The specific aim of this book is to provide a basis for enhancing the interaction between counsel and the eyewitness expert in the preparation of cases and the evaluation of eyewitness evidence under current procedures. Eyewitness psychologists have much to offer the legal system in a consulting role, yet the role of consultant is a delicate one given the adversary nature of litigation. Enhanced preparation can increase the likelihood that the impressive qualifications of an expert will translate into a "good witness" in court, both in terms of sound evidence and effective testimony.


For the past 22 years, I have participated as a basic and applied researcher, instructor, and consultant for law-enforcement agencies as well as for both the prosecution and defense in our adversary system. This experience hopefully has enabled me to frame the book to be of value to all involved. I have supported the key concepts throughout the book with selected case examples using scenarios from cases in which I was involved as an expert for the Superior Court of the County of Los Angeles, California.


The early chapters lay the foundation for expert testimony in eyewitness cases and explore what the testimony can offer the trier of fact. Subsequent chapters describe the current status of both eyewitness research and eyewitness expert testimony, including the fundamental issues in both areas as well as ethical dilemmas faced by psychologists who will serve as expert witnesses. In addition, a framework for evaluating the eyewitness evidence in a case is presented, which includes a taxonomy of factors that are most likely to affect eyewitness performance. Given that the quality of the expert testimony is in large part dependent on the quality of the questioning from the opposing counsels at trial, attention also is given to strategies for conducting direct, cross, and redirect questioning of eyewitnesses experts. This book also may be of interest to those in the mental health profession as a general guide for offering expert testimony.


This second edition provides an up-to-date review of the research and issues in eyewitness psychology as of 1996, and provides additional laboratory and field evidence for the premises described in the first edition, as well as answers for additional questions.













Basis for eyewitness expert testimony

• The Amaral decision

• Other appellant decisions



What eyewitness expert testimony can offer

• Importance of in-court questioning

• Expert as information seeker

• Examination of physical exhibits

• Expert’s interviewing of eyewitnesses

• Special purpose experiments

• The expert’s written report



Beginning a case



Current status of eyewitness research

• Laboratory studies

• Field studies



Current status of eyewitness expert testimony

• The issues

• The “battle of the experts”



Evaluation of eyewitness factors

• The three stages of human information processing

• Taxonomy of eyewitness factors



Menu of direct examination questions

• Establishing the expert’s credentials

• The narrative on eyewitness information processing

• Substantive questions on eyewitness factors



Cross-examination questioning



Preparing for re-direct questioning



Courtroom demeanor of the expert

• Message style

• Whom to address

• Body positioning and voice



Ethical dilemmas for psychologists as experts

• Consultant-advocate distinction

• Contact from “the other side”

• Protecting the innocent versus freeing the guilty

• Accepting and declining cases



Alternatives to eyewitness expert testimony

• Judge’s model instructions to the jury

• Amicus curiae briefs

• Benefits and consequences of doing nothing





Book: $45

To order: Call 760-929-9777


ISBN 0-935645-00-4


American College of Forensic Psychology

P.O. Box 130458

Carlsbad, California 92013