I have an interesting topic for you here today. And that is this credibility and reliability of witnesses in a criminal trial. And what does this mean? So we speak of credibility in criminal trials all the time. But what does it mean? Well, to simplify it really down credibility means whether the witness is believable and telling the truth. And the judge or jury has to make that assessment. Is that witness believable? And are they telling the truth? Reliability, that’s another concept reliability means are they accurate in the testimony? A totally different thing that they’re two different concepts. So, so we speak to them together because in order to find proof beyond a reasonable doubt, for example, in a domestic assault trial, or a sexual assault trial, the trier of fact the judge or jury, they have to find the victims both credible and reliable beyond a reasonable doubt. And they’re two different concepts. And I’m going to give you an example how they’re different.
Let’s take an eyewitness to a crime, someone sees a bank robbery in progress, and they’re very honest person, they take the stand and they were quite traumatized by it. And they’re actually convinced that the person is the robber, and they’re telling the truth. But they’re so wishy washy about their accuracy, that they were traumatized, they picked out wrong people out of a lineup initially, but in court, they’re able to point to the person that’s the person right there.
I’m sure of it well they are sure in their mind, they’re telling the truth they’re credible witness the judge finds that base, but because of other evidence in the case, and the defense counsel is even able to show that these they’re not even the real robber they will have produced the real robber with a video tape. Mistaken identity is as a classic example of a person who’s totally credible, but their evidence is potentially not reliable and this goes for all criminal trials.
So we have to assess both and in order to make clear findings of fact beyond a reasonable doubt that something happened. We have to find the evidence of a witness both credible and reliable. If one or the other is missing, then you really can’t pay attention to that witness and I’ve heard I’ve heard judges say to jury, members of the jury that it’s up to you to decide, or they caution in cells when their giving a judgment im talking about a jury trial. It’s up to you to decide but I found that witness very believable
but because of ABCDE problems with their evidence their just not reliable or accurate. There are two different concepts in order for you to accept those facts you have to bring the two together and find that they were both credible and reliable.
So it seems like a simple concept but it’s sometimes you know, jury members struggle with the concept a little bit they come back and ask judge questions, what they meant by it and whatnot, because the jurors might think this person is so believable but you really have to assess accuracy as well to determine facts beyond the reasonable doubt in the Canadian criminal courtroom.
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