System Variables in the Ronald Cotton Case

System Variables in the Ronald Cotton Case

o prepare for this Assignment:

  • Review Chapter 7 in your course text, Forensic and Legal Psychology. Focus on examples of system variables, and consider how they might influence reliability of eyewitness identification.
  • Review the Wells & Olson article, Eyewitness Testimony. Focus on current findings in the literature regarding system variables and their influence on eyewitness testimony.
  • Review the section on Ronald Cotton, pages 133-135 in Chapter 7 in your course text, Forensic and Legal Psychology. Also, review the Ronald Cotton case study summary below. Based on these readings, identify system variables that may have had an impact on the case.
  • Find and read a peer-reviewed article in the Walden Library about one of the system variables you have decided to analyze. Consider the significance of the system variable you selected and its relevance to the case.

Case Study: Eyewitness Identification

Jennifer Thompson, a white female college student living in southeastern United States was sexually assaulted at knifepoint in her home in the middle of the night. During the attack, the lights remained off. Despite the darkness, Jennifer claimed to have studied the attacker’s face during the assault. Consequently, she felt she was able to identify her assailant to authorities.

Shortly after the attack, Jennifer contacted police. Within hours, she helped law enforcement officials create a composite sketch of her attacker. Within a week, after examining mug shots, she identified Ronald Cotton, an African-American male, as the rapist. About two weeks later, the police arrested Mr. Cotton. Two weeks later, at the police station, she identified Ronald Cotton in a live simultaneous lineup. She told detectives she was 100% certain he was the assailant. During the trial, she clearly demonstrated her confidence that it was Ronald Cotton, the defendant, who had sexually assaulted her.


The Assignment (3-page minimum):

Provide an analysis of the Ronald Cotton case, and include the following:

  • Describe two system variables in the Ronald Cotton case.
  • Explain the significance of each system variable as it relates to the case.
  • Explain at least two recommendations to improve actions taken by the police related to eyewitness identification in the Ronald Cotton case.
  • Incorporate into your paper a summary of the peer-reviewed article you selected.
  • Be sure to provide references in APA format for the peer-reviewed article you selected from the current literature.
  • Remember, this Application Assignment spans two weeks and is worth more than twice the point value of your Week 1 Application Assignment. Therefore, your response to this Application Assignment should be clearly more substantial than your response to the Week 1 Application Assignment.

Support your Application Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list for all resources, including those in the Learning Resources for this course

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