of a Review
Jeopardy in the Courtroom
Stephen J. Ceci and Maggie Bruck
So Brainerd and Hill wrote in "Voices of Children," an extensive review of Stephen J. Ceci and Maggie Bruck's book, Jeopardy in the Courtroom.
Those words commemorate that memory, indeed, takes center stage in a child sexual abuse or child rape case. And all too often that memory is contaminated or distorted. And all too often added to that false memory are dangerous practices brought about by the many changes in the law over the last two decades:
Some of the practices almost
conviction were succinctly listed in the review:
In their book, we are told in the review, Ceci and Bruck discuss the Salem witch trials and six modern-day cases and then interweave their basic research with the facts in the six cases. In four of the six recent cases, there was no physical evidence of abuse. In five of the six cases, there were convictions. In only one of the five cases was there physical evidence. In all six, there was the questionable veracity of children's statements.
2 No physical evidence conviction
3 No physical evidence conviction
4 No physical evidence conviction
5 Physical evidence conviction
6 Physical evidence no conviction
Is it possible to so modify child forensic interviewing that the sorts of errors described by Ceci and Bruck are minimized? "The core objective of Ceci and Bruck's book is to answer this question by presenting the latest research on children's memory reports in actual and simulated forensic settings." Id.
Brainerd and Hill try to soften the ugliness of the coercive questioning by mental health professionals as well as prosecutors by saying that it is now known how to get the truth from children without using the methods by which wrongly imprisoned many. We can get the truth from children by, for example, "supplying concrete but neutral retrieval cues, such as returning to the scene of an alleged crime." Id.
Their "new methods" statement is almost an apologeia, but at least they acknowledge that changes must be made. Curiously, Brainerd and Hill profess also that "there are even methods that can be used to repair possible false-memory implantation (e.g., gentle challenging of specific claims, expressing generalized doubt throughout an interview)." This author is less confident that such miraculous healing is possible.
The primary problem is that most prosecutors and most so-called mental health professionals do NOT stay current by reading studies by Ceci and Bruck and reviews by Brainerd and Hill. Only the exceptional ones and the academics do.
How likely, for instance, is it that a copy of Jeopardy in the Courtroom will be found on your favorite prosecutor's desk?
Nevertheless, this author recommends that you first read Brainerd and Hill's review. It will help you plow through Ceci and Bruck's tour de force.
by now that this book was not written for child memory
"Voices of Children," infra.
"Ceci and Bruck's book is already
as supporting documentation in attorneys' submissions to courts in
sexual abuse cases and recovered memory cases," Brainerd and Hilless
"It is therefore obligatory, in our view, for professionals and
who provide expert testimony in such cases to be conversant with its
Otherwise, they may expect their testimony to be vigorously challenged."
ReferencesC. J. Brainerd and D. Hill, "Voices of Children," Contemporary Psychology, Volume 42, Number 1.
Stephen J. Ceci and Maggie Bruck, Jeopardy
in the Courtroom: A Scientific Analysis of Children's Testimony
Psychological Association, Wash., D.C. 1995). Bookmark this page
so you can return here after ordering Stephen
J. Ceci and Maggie Bruck's book, Jeopardy in the Courtroom