A witness, in theory, should not take a side. They should not be prejudiced or biased. They are only there to describe what they see, hear or witness in objective terms. They are only there to answer questions that were asked and not to give any additional information or opinion.

All of the eyewitnesses for the prosecution of the Floyd case are clearly biased. For example, the firefighter that described Floyd as being small and skinny. She was also combative with the judge and the defense instead of answering questions objectively as they were asked.

Are there scientific research done on how jurors respond to these types of "witnesses"? Do they become less credible to the jurors?

Do jurors, in general, have the IQ points to be able to distinguish between these 2 statements:

  1. I saw a police officer with his knee on a man's neck.
  2. I saw a police officer killing man by placing his knee on the man's neck.

Are jurors able to discern that statement 1 is an objective description of reality while statement 2 is a biased description stemming from the witness' personal prejudice?

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    I’m voting to close this question because it's not a question on the law. – BlueDogRanch Apr 3 at 20:45
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    How is asking research about juror behavior not related to the law? – free_lions_n_tigers_from_cages Apr 3 at 21:05
  • @ganidat Are you trying to ask about jurors or witnesses? – Studoku Apr 3 at 21:08
  • how jurors respond to witnesses -> therefore the question is about jurors not witnesses – free_lions_n_tigers_from_cages Apr 3 at 21:09
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    This question is built on some pretty obviously incorrect premises. – bdb484 Apr 3 at 23:03

Your opening paragraph is 100% wrong

The only bit that is slightly correct is that lay witnesses cannot give opinions, however, expert witnesses can.

A witness is required to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. How they think and feel about what they saw and heard fits squarely within the “truth” the witnessed experienced.

As for your 2 statements, the first is clearly acceptable and the second isn’t. If the defence objected (which they might not for tactical or strategic reasons), the judge would likely uphold the objection. If the defence lets it through, its not up to the judge to make the defence’s decisions.

However, the following is fine:

I saw a police officer with his knee on a man's neck. I thought he was killing him. Then he died.

This is acceptable because it’s about what the witness thought. The original isn’t because it ascribes intent to the police officer - the witness cannot possibly know what the police officer was thinking.

Since the premise is wrong, the question is without foundation.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – feetwet Apr 4 at 17:43

There is no requirement that a witness be "unbiased". Showing bias is one of the classic purposes of cross-examination.

Witnesses (other than expert witnesses) are generally supposed to testify to their own observations, not their conclusions. If there is an objection, the judge may instruct a witness not to testify to conclusions. If there is no objection, the judge will usually not intervene.

I do not know of any study of the reactions of jurors to witnesses who display bias or what might be described as bias.

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