Crime Film Documentaries
| fall | 2018 |

James R. Elkins

Readings & Recommended Videos

"Brother's Keeper"


"Best Brothers: The Delbert Ward Case," in Cyril Wecht, Cause of Death 235-259 (Onyx, 1994) [Wecht testified for the defense in the Delbert Ward murder trial] [Cyril Wecht] [if you want to read Cyril Wecht's account of his involvement in the Ward case as an expert witness before we screen the film, send me a note, and I can email the chapter to you]

Thomas M. Kemple, Litigating Illiteracy: The Media, the Law, and The People of the State of New York v. Adelbert Ward, 10 Can. J.L. & Soc. 73 1995) [if you want to read this article before we screen the file, it is available on HeinOnLine]

Readings (and Recommended Videos) Archive

"Murder on a Sunday Morning"

Readings: Eyewitness Identification

Paul Kix, "Recognition: How a Travesty Led to Criminal-Justice Innovation in Texas," The New Yorker, Jan. 18, 2016 [online text]

Neil Vidmar,, Rethinking Reliance on Eyewitness Confidence, 94 (1) Judicature 16 (2010) [online text]

Recommended Videos: Eyewitness Identification

Getting It Right
[7:42 mins.] [The Innocence Project]

The Dangerous Unreliability of Eyewitnesses [6:51 mins.] [with Barry Scheck]

Eyewitness Identifications Lead to Wrongful Convictions
[2:28 mins.] [Karen Newirth, staff attorney, Innocence Project]

How to Challenge an Eyewitness Identification
[2:21 mins.]

The Fiction of Memory | Elizabeth Loftus [17:36 mins.] [TED Talk] [presentation begins with Loftus discussing her work on the Steve Titus case] [2nd version of the TED presentation]

Eyewitness [13:00 mins.] [CBS "60 Minutes] Pt2 [13:06 mins.] [Ronald Cotton] [Lesley Stahl, 60 Minutes, CBS News, March 8, 2009. A report on the use of eyewitness testimony and the attention drawn to the unreliability of eyewitness identification following the prevelance of eyewitness identifcations in DNA exonerations cases. Stahl focuses on the case of Ronald Cotton, who was falsely accused of rape.] [The jury took only 40 minutes to reach its decision to convict Ronald Cotton.] [Prof. Gary Wells, the researcher who has focused on eyewitness identification, is interviewed by Stahl. For reference to Prof. Wells's work: Prof. Gary L. Wells] [On Jennifer Thompson and her misidentification of Ronald Cotton, see, Jennifer Thompson-Cannino & Ronald Cotton, Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2009)] [PBS Frontline, February, 1997: What Jennifer Saw]

Looking for Justice: The Eugene Gilyard Story and Best Practices for Eyewitness Identification [13:03 mins.] [Pennsylvania Innocence Project]

Recommended Videos: False Confessions:

False Confessions [2:31 mins.] Innocence Project]

False Confessions [9:12 mins.] [Vera Institute of Justice] [Saul Kassin, Professor of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice] [for a longer version of Saul Kassin's comments, see: Why Innocent People Confess] [29:47 mins.] [Kassin's presentation begins at 2:46 mins.]

Chicago: The False Confession Capital [13:30 mins.] [60 Minutes] [juvenile false convictions] [featuring James Hardin, Terrill Swift, Robert Taylor, Jonathan Barr, Michael Saunders, Harold Richardson, Vincent Thames] [presenting six cases in which defendants were found guilty solely on the basis of coerced confessions]

A Defense Lawyer Talking about the Introduction of False Confession Evidence in Trials [1:27 mins.]

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