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The Impact of Witness Credibility in Ohio Criminal Cases


Most people agree that the integrity of a legal proceeding depends on the veracity of witness testimony. In the recent Ferguson case, one alleged reason why the grand jury declined to indict was due to the unreliability of several witnesses. It was noted that unreliable testimony was given by witnesses for both parties involved in the case. While many witnesses likely gave honest testimony, there were several who admitted to lying or changing their story while on the stand.

Legal experts who reviewed documents related to the grand jury have raised two key questions about the proceeding. First, they wonder why so many witnesses were called to the stand. Second, they wondered why prosecutors called witnesses who were likely to provide unreliable testimony. Typically, prosecutors will only call witnesses who they believe will increase the odds of getting an indictment.

One reason given for calling a large number of witnesses was because of the scrutiny given to the case. Another theory suggests that the goal was to create doubt in the minds of the jurors. If the jurors didn't feel that a crime definitely took place, they would have no choice but to drop the charges. Overall, many feel that the grand jury came to the correct conclusion although the process was flawed in this case.

Anyone who has been charged with murder, DUI or any other type of crime may wish to hire a criminal defense attorney who can provided representation throughout the entire legal process. The attorney may try to get charges dropped by questioning evidence collected or by casting doubt on witness testimony. If a full acquittal cannot be won, it may be possible to negotiate a plea bargain, which may allow a defendant to avoid some or all possible penalties.

Source: CNN, "One challenge for Ferguson grand jury: Some witnesses' credibility", Josh Levs, December 14, 2014