Watch the video here (if you haven’t already)
Hear the full audio here (warning: potentially distressing)
Quick summary here:
- Fraser, H. 2013. Covert recordings as evidence in court: the return of police verballing? The Conversation
More detail here:
- Fraser, H., & Kinoshita, Y. 2021. Injustice arising from the unnoticed power of priming: How lawyers and even judges can be misled by unreliable transcripts of indistinct forensic audio. Criminal Law Journal, 45(3) 142-152.
Current law allows police transcripts to assist juries in understanding the content of indistinct forensic audio – with a number of legal safeguards intended to mitigate any risk that an inaccurate transcript might mislead the jury. The problem is that the safeguards rely on lawyers and judges gaining a sense of personal confidence that they hear words suggested by the transcript. The present article describes a new experiment showing that personal confidence is a poor indicator of perceptual accuracy, since listeners can be easily and unwittingly “primed” to hear words suggested by an inaccurate transcript. This confirms previous research suggesting current safeguards are inadequate, adds new findings regarding the effect of an alternative suggestion, and supports the need for an evidence-based process ensuring all indistinct forensic audio used in court is accompanied by a reliable transcript. It also indicates there is an urgent need to change legal procedures for admission of transcripts of indistinct forensic audio used as evidence in criminal trials.