Experiences with Eyewitness Testimony

jamesAn Interview with Attorney James Oliver

by Gila Hayes

In our current Attorney Question column, Network Advisory board member Jim Fleming asked about the accuracy of statements given by witnesses to violent events. A response from attorney Jim Oliver led to an interesting discussion about the fragility of memory and inaccuracies in eyewitness testimony. I’m sharing that conversation, because I think readers will find it as informative as I did.

Jim Oliver has been a Network affiliated attorney since 2010. After 20 years as a criminal defense practitioner, Jim has stepped back to serve in an “of counsel” capacity at the Law Offices of Durflinger Oliver & Associates, Tacoma, WA, in order to spend more time with his family, and participate in legal assistance projects in developing nations including the Republic of Palau as well as traveling in Europe.

We switch now to a Q and A format to share the experiences of defense attorney Jim Oliver in his own words.

eJournal: Thank you for talking to me about the accuracy of eyewitness testimony. During your years defending clients after use of force incidents, how accurate were the memories of people who had used force?

Oliver: It is hard to know, because everybody has a different perspective. In every case I’ve worked, each person has perceived and recounted what happened to them differently. I would say overall, though, the people I defended after use of force situations recounted the major points pretty accurately. Their stories had been documented almost immediately after the incident, typically by experienced detectives or officers who had written lots of reports, who were pretty good about getting information out of witnesses. My general sense, based on what other witnesses claimed to have viewed at the time, is that the guys I’ve defended have generally been pretty accurate in recounting what happened.

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President’s Message

Marty eJournal column pix

Red Flag Laws

 by Marty Hayes, J.D.

It is time to set the record straight regarding the Network’s stance on Red Flag Laws, also known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders. This is a topic we are frequently asked by members and prospective members alike.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders are the latest and not so greatest attempt to legislate additional burdens on to the law abiding gun owner and is facially an attempt to address the real concern about people who exhibit tendencies towards violence against others, and what to do about their right to keep and bear arms. Members will remember that an earlier Attorney Question of the Month gave our Network Affiliated Attorneys a chance to discuss Extreme Risk Protection Orders with their commentaries published at https://armedcitizensnetwork.org/april-2019-attorney-question and https://armedcitizensnetwork.org/may-2019-attorney-question.

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Attorney Question of the Month


This month’s question concerns witnesses at the scene of a defense shooting and comes to us from those involved in armed security for churches, although the question has broader implications.

Police officers involved in shootings are rightly advised to wait for 48 to 72 hours before making a statement to investigators. This is well established. Armed citizens are similarly advised for the same sound reasons. Should the same 48 to 72 hour principle apply to witnesses closely involved in a defense shooting? We asked our Network Affiliated Attorneys for their thoughts on the following–

If a Network member uses deadly force in defense in the presence of family, close associates, or in a workplace or church, what concerns would you as the member’s attorney have about accuracy of witness statements given by those in close proximity to the incident?

If the incident is witnessed by co-workers or church members or others who are present during a defense shooting, would you recommend witnesses request time to gather their wits before giving a witness statement? How can the witnesses be advised of that protection without impeding investigation of the incident?

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Book Review

Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training

By Karl Rehn and John Daub
Published by KR Training March 6, 2019
ISBN-13: 978-1798865798
154 pages
$9.97 for Kindle; $20 paperback at https://www.amazon.com/Strategies-Standards-Defensive-Handgun-Training

Reviewed by Gila Hayes

“How can we motivate more people with carry permits, or guns for home defense, to attend training beyond the state minimum?” ask Karl Rehn and John Daub in their book Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training. It is a good question and one not only of concern to instructors but, as they wisely note, to armed citizens, as well. Untrained gun owners make deadly mistakes that result in public outrage and domino into knee-jerk legislative restrictions that apply against even the most well-trained, responsible among us.

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Editor’s Notebook


by Gila Hayes

By the time members read this month’s journal, the great holiday of Thanksgiving will be over. The idea of celebrating a day of gratitude predates the pilgrim’s celebration in 1621, I’m told. Nonetheless, we traditionally like to think of that first harvest feast as the starting point for the Thanksgiving holiday we now observe. I was amused to read that in 1777 the Continental Congress established the first national day of Thanksgiving, declaring that it should be a “solemn occasion,” on which it was “unbecoming” to take part in “servile labor” and “recreations [that were] at other times innocent.”

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About this Journal


The eJournal of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc. is published monthly on the Network’s website at http://armedcitizensnetwork.org/our-journal. Content is copyrighted by the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc.

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