New Evidence

Sample Affidavit of Hollida Wakefield

Before me, the undersigned authority, on this day personally appeared Hollida Wakefield, known to me to be the person whose name is subscribed to the following instrument, and having been duly sworn, upon her oath, deposes and states as follows:

I. I have prepared this affidavit at the request of _______________

II. (Updated biographical material to demonstrate expertise and support opinions is added. Current research also added when relevant.)

IV. A major focus of my professional activities is the research on the suggestibility of the child witness and how children must be interviewed to obtain accurate, uncontaminated information. We are current on the literature on this topic and have written papers and made professional presentations on it. Our book, The Real World of Child Interrogations, deals with this. We have presented workshops and seminars around the world on how to permit children to produce the most reliable and legally relevant information they can.

V. Since 1987 there have been major changes in professional opinions concerning the susceptibility of children to suggestive and leading interviews. In 1987 the testimony of young children was generally accepted as truthful and the prevailing opinion was that young children could not be led or "coached" to make statements about abuse that never happened. The belief was that, although children might be led through suggestive interviews to make unimportant errors concerning peripheral details, they could not be led to make statements about important, central events.

VI. As researchers became involved in actual cases and reviewed videotapes of actual interviews, they observed that the research supporting the above claims did not begin to duplicate what often happens in the real world. As a result, there has been new research in the past two or three years that has changed the consensus of scientific opinion. It is now generally accepted in the scientific community that persistent questioning can lead children to give elaborate accounts of events that never occurred, even when they first denied them. Sometimes the questioning results in the child developing a subjectively real memory for an event that never happened.

VII. S. Ceci and M. Bruck, who have conducted some of the most important research, published an article in the Psychological Bulletin that summarizes the current state of knowledge (The suggestibility of the child witness: A historical review and synthesis. Psychological Bulletin, 113(3), 403-439, 1993). In this article, the authors draw several conclusions that they state would meet the traditional Frye standard:

Even young children are capable of recalling much that is forensically relevant.

There are significant age differences in suggestibility, with preschool-age children being more vulnerable to suggestion than either school-aged children or adults.

Children can be led to make false or inaccurate reports about very crucial, personally experienced events.

Contrary to the claims of some, children sometimes lie when the motivational structure is tilted towards lying.

VIII. These conclusions were not generally accepted by the scientific community in 1987.

IX. The research described by Ceci and Bruck and the conclusions drawn concerning child witnesses that is described in paragraphs VI and VII also meets the requirements specified in Daubert vs. Merrell Dow.

I declare the foregoing is true and correct.

Further your affiant saith not.

Executed this ____ day of__________, 19__ in Northfield, Minnesota.

Hollida Wakefield, M.A.
Licensed Psychologist

Subscribed and sworn to before me by Hollida Wakefield on this ____ day of _______, 19____ to certify which witness my hand and seal of office.


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