Two books look at oral testimony and Israel in 1948
Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory (The Cultures of History)
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Human testimony is basic to the courtroom pursuit of justice. But if one follows the news, one must feel queasy about what people remember and say under oath. Using DNA, the Innocence Project has so far exonerated more than two hundred people wrongfully convicted of crimes in the United States. In nearly four-fifths of the cases, according to one study, the convictions were based at least in part on eyewitness identification. Besides that, informants mistestified, sometimes to clear themselves. Defendants confessed to crimes they didn’t commit.
Memory is fluid, uncertain, susceptible to influence. It can be warped by what others say or want to hear, by an interrogator’s questions, by prejudice, by the effort to make sense later of a chaotic moment. A defense attorney may rip apart a rape victim’s confused
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