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How Accurately Do Eyewitnesses Determine if a Person is Familiar and How Does this Affect Plea Bargaining Decisions by Prosecution and Defense Attorneys?

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $225,130)

This research project examines strength of evidence by studying the impact of prosecutor and defender assumptions regarding race/ethnicity, casual nonstranger familiarity, and eyewitness evidence on plea bargaining. NIJ selected Experiment 2 which collects information from deputy district attorneys (n=125) and deputy public defenders (n=125) in Los Angeles and other CA sites in response to store/residential robbery scenarios varying on eyewitness/suspect, race/ethnicity and whether the eyewitness reported having previously seen the perpetrator casually. Responses include probability of winning trial, defendant guilt, plea recommendation, and plea bargain; if an eyewitness says they saw the perpetrator before, are prosecutors less likely, and are defenders more likely, to recommend a plea bargain because they assume this evidence is deemed strong?


Date Created: September 20, 2009