Picking Cotton Case Study

analytical Essay
1036 words
1036 words

Picking Cotton: A crash Course on the Criminal Justice System Jennifer Thompson-Cannino was raped at knife point in her apartment. She was able to escape and identify Ronald Cotton as her attacker. The detective conducting the lineup told Jennifer that she had done great, confirming to her that she had chosen the right suspect. Eleven years later, DNA evidence proved that the man Jennifer Identified, Ronald Cotton was innocent and wrongfully convicted. Instead, Bobby Poole was the real perpetrator. Sadly, there are many other cases of erroneous convictions. Picking cotton is a must read for anybody because it educates readers about shortcomings of eyewitness identification, the police investigative process and the court system. Eyewitness …show more content…

Because police investigators are usually under pressure to arrest criminals and safeguard the community, they often make mistakes. Sometimes, detectives become convinced of a suspect 's guilt because of their criminal history or weak speculations. Once they are convinced, they are less likely to consider alternative possibilities. They overlook some important exculpatory evidence, make weak speculations and look only for links that connect a suspect to a crime, especially if the suspect has a previous criminal record. Picking Cotton provides an understanding of some common errors of the police investigation process. During Ronald Cottons interrogation, the detectives did not bother to record the conversation “But I noticed he wasn 't recording the conversation, so I felt that he could be writing anything down”(79) unlike they did for Jennifer. They had already labelled Ronald Cotton as the perpetrator and they told him during the interrogation “Cotton, Jennifer Thompson already identified you. We know it was you”(82). Jenifer Thompson 's testimony along with Ronald Cotton 's past criminal records gave the detectives more reason to believe Ronald committed the crime. Ronald Cotton stated “ This cop Sully, though, he had already decided I was guilty.”(84). Many investigative process have shortcomings and are breached because the officials in charge make …show more content…

The court system includes the judges, jury, prosecutors and defense attorneys. The Attorneys convince the suspects to take plea bargains, the judges are sometimes unfair in the decisions they make, and the prosecutors overlook exculpatory evidence. Picking cotton shows in detail some common errors of the court system. During Ronald Cotton 's first trial, His Attorney, Phil Moseley, tried to bring a memory expert to testify on the unreliability of memory but the judge denied his request. After Ronald 's case was overturned by the supreme court, he got a new trial in another court which had even more problems and bias. First, there was racial prejudice during the jury selection. “Four black people from the community got called in for jury duty. The judge himself dismissed one of them and then Mr turner made sure none of the rest sat on my jury” Ronald cotton stated. Because he was black, the four jurors were dismissed and he was left with an all white jury and two white Alternates. Second, the judge “Held something called a “voir dire” hearing, which Phil explained meant he would have to put up all the evidence about Poole in front of the Judge, but not the Jury”(129). Also, Ronald Cotton 's defense attorney explained to the judge the parallelism between Bobby Poole 's case and the rape Ronald Cotton was charged with. Despite the weak physical evidence against Ronald Cotton, the

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that picking cotton is a must read for anyone because it educates readers about shortcomings of eyewitness identification, the police investigative process and the court system.
  • Analyzes how eyewitness misidentification has been the predominant cause of erroneous convictions. picking cotton demonstrates the unreliability of memory and witness identification
  • Explains that the police investigative process requires careful attention and a steady pace to avoid mistakes.
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