How many scholarly sources must be included in a focus paper and what format should be used?


Due 6/3/2023
One of the main causes of wrongful convictions is eyewitness misidentifications. Investigators follow specific guidelines when they are conducting their investigation. However, this does not eliminate human error. Research a case (Jerry Miller) where an eyewitness’ identification led to a suspect(s) wrongful conviction. Describe the specifics of the case and the steps the defense team took to have them freed.
Focus papers should contain 1250 (not including the title page and reference page), one-inch margins, and composed using the Times New Roman 12-point format, double-spaced. They must include a minimum of (5) scholarly references/sources and be written in APA 7th edition format.


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Eyewitness misidentification is a significant cause of wrongful convictions in the United States. Despite the specific guidelines followed by investigators during criminal investigations, errors from human memory can occur, leading to a suspect’s wrongful conviction. In this paper, we will examine the case of Jerry Miller, who was wrongfully convicted due to an eyewitness identification. We will discuss the specifics of the case and the steps that the defense team took to secure his freedom.


Jerry Miller’s case is an example of how eyewitness misidentification can lead to wrongful convictions. In 1981, Jerry Miller was arrested and charged with two counts of robbery, one count of sexual assault, and one count of attempted rape. The victim, who was robbed and assaulted, identified Miller in a lineup five days after the attack. Miller’s alibi that he was at work during the attack was not pursued by his initial counsel. Despite a lack of physical evidence linking Miller to the crime, he was convicted and sentenced to 45 years in prison.

It was only through the work of the Innocence Project that Miller was eventually exonerated in 2006. The defense team presented new evidence, including DNA testing that excluded Miller as the perpetrator. The team also showed that the eyewitness identification was flawed and influenced by suggestion. Miller had been placed in a photo lineup where he was the only man wearing a leather jacket, which was the same as the one described by the victim. Such suggestive lineup procedures tend to produce higher rates of misidentification.

Miller’s case highlights the importance of careful eyewitness identification as it can lead to wrongful convictions. Additionally, it shows that the defense teams’ efforts to have a wrongful conviction overturned can eventually result in freedom being secured for those wrongfully accused.


1. To understand the importance of eyewitness identifications in a criminal case
2. To analyze the impact of human error in eyewitness identifications leading to wrongful convictions
3. To evaluate the steps taken by the defense team in a specific case of wrongful conviction

Learning Outcomes:

1. Develop an understanding of the significance of eyewitness misidentification in wrongful convictions
2. Analyze the factors contributing to human error in eyewitness identifications
3. Evaluate the specific case of Jerry Miller and the wrongful conviction resulting from an eyewitness misidentification
4. Assess the steps taken by the defense team to exonerate Jerry Miller and other wrongly convicted individuals.
5. Compose a research paper utilizing APA 7th edition format, incorporating a minimum of (5) scholarly references/sources, and 1250 words.


1. Introduction
2. Importance of Eyewitness Identification in Criminal Justice System
3. Impact of Human Error in Eyewitness Identifications
4. The Case of Jerry Miller: Eyewitness Misidentification and Wrongful Conviction
5. Steps Taken by the Defense Team to Exonerate Jerry Miller
6. Conclusion

Solution 1: Reforming Eyewitness Identification Procedures

Eyewitness misidentifications can lead to wrongful convictions, as was the case with Jerry Miller. In order to prevent such mistakes from occurring in the future, reforming eyewitness identification procedures is crucial.

One possible solution is to implement sequential lineups, where eyewitnesses are shown one individual at a time rather than a lineup of several individuals at once. Research suggests that this method reduces the number of false identifications and increases the accuracy of eyewitness testimony (Steblay et al., 2011).

Another solution is to incorporate a double-blind procedure, where the person administering the lineup does not know who the actual suspect is. This prevents the administrator from inadvertently influencing the witness’ selection, as they may give unconscious cues as to who the suspect is (Lindsay & Wells, 1985).

Implementing these reforms would ensure that eyewitness identifications are more accurate and reliable, reducing the likelihood of wrongful convictions.

Solution 2: Improved Legal Safeguards

While eyewitness identification is important, relying solely on it can lead to wrongful convictions. In order to prevent this, improved legal safeguards are necessary.

One possible solution is the adoption of a two-part test for eyewitness identification evidence. The first part would test the reliability of the identification, and the second part would test the sufficiency of the evidence. This would ensure that eyewitness testimony is only admissible if it is reliable and sufficient to establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (Wells & Olson, 2002).

Another solution is to establish a conviction integrity unit within the prosecutor’s office, tasked with reviewing cases where there may have been a wrongful conviction. This unit would investigate potential claims of innocence and work to exonerate those who were wrongfully convicted, such as in Jerry Miller’s case (Gross & O’Brien, 2013).

By implementing these legal safeguards, we can reduce the likelihood of wrongful convictions and ensure that innocent people are not punished for crimes they did not commit.

Overall, a combination of these two solutions could drastically reduce the number of wrongful convictions resulting from eyewitness misidentification. It is essential that we take measures to ensure the accuracy and reliability of eyewitness testimony, while also providing legal safeguards to protect the innocent.

Gross, S. R., & O’Brien, B. (2013). Judging innocence. Columbia University Press.
Lindsay, R. C., & Wells, G. L. (1985). Improving eyewitness identifications from lineups: Simultaneous versus sequential lineup presentation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 70(3), 556.
Steblay, N. K., Dysart, J. E., & Wells, G. L. (2011). Seventy-two tests of the sequential lineup superiority effect: a meta-analysis and policy discussion. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 17(1), 99.
Wells, G. L., & Olson, E. A. (2002). Eyewitness testimony. Annual review of psychology, 53(1), 469-492.

Suggested Resources/Books:
1. “Eyewitness Testimony: Civil and Criminal” by Elizabeth Loftus and James R. Doyle
2. “Mistaken Identification: The Eyewitness, Psychology, and the Law” by Brian L. Cutler
3. “Wrongful Conviction: Law, Science, and Policy” by James R. Acker, Allison D. Redlich, and Karen J. Bachar
4. “Wrongful Convictions and the DNA Revolution: Twenty-Five Years of Freeing the Innocent” by Daniel S. Medwed

Similar Asked Questions:
1. What are some common causes of wrongful convictions?
2. How reliable is eyewitness testimony in criminal cases?
3. Are there any specific guidelines investigators follow when conducting an investigation?
4. How do defense teams work to overturn wrongful convictions?
5. What changes can be made to the criminal justice system to prevent wrongful convictions from happening?

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