Most of us believe that we have a good memory. That our memory is like a film recording that we can play back to provide an accurate recollection of events. However, research shows that the truth is much different. Recent studies reinforce the fact that our memories are fallible and unreliable, even though an emotional connection with an event enhances memory formation.

a Nova Scotia judge who said that “clearly a drunk can consent” as he acquitted a Halifax taxi driver of sexually assaulting an intoxicated passenger found partly naked and unconscious in the back of his cab.

In a criminal trial, normally only a duly qualified “expert” is permitted to provide opinion evidence to the court. However, lay people, or non-experts are able to provide an opinion on matters that are part of everyday behavioural observation and don’t require special expertise.

Observations are limited to what the witness saw, heard, smelled, tasted or touched. An “expert”, however, may provide an opinion as to what a set of observations may mean. They are allowed to interpret the observations and provide the court with an analysis and professional opinion.

In many trials, the evidence comes down to the credibility and reliability of the testimony of the people who were at the scene of the alleged crime. Credibility refers to the truthfulness of a statement given by a witness. Reliability refers to the accuracy (or veracity) of that statement.

How you testify is equally as important as what you say. Being a jerk can mean losing your case merely due to inappropriate behaviour.

The decision to testify or not at trial can be a daunting but crucial decision to the outcome of your trial.

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