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Read the facts of the hypothetical case and then write your opinion letter as a psychology and law expert, commenting on the issues you see as relevant to your expertise. Support your ideas with references to research studies/cases (using the authors and year). Remember that experts comment on all aspects of the case for which they have expertise, so you can talk about good and bad aspects of the case.
The Case:

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-Overview: On January 12th, 2019, the Bank of American on Glidewell Drive in Burlington, NC was robbed. Two assailants with tape stuck on the sides of their faces entered the bank at 4:55 pm. They each pointed a handgun at the tellers and clients and demanded cash from the tellers and smartphones and wallets from the clients. In the main room there were three tellers present and four clients. Three other employees were in the back room, getting ready to leave for the day and were unaware of the robbery in the main room. One assailant had a pillowcase into which the victims placed their items. One client was reluctant to place her wallet into the bag, and the assailant hit her on the side of the head, causing her to fall to the floor. The robbery took approximately 3 minutes in total. Both assailants fled out the front door and around the side of the building. One of the tellers then tripped the alarm and police were on the scene in four minutes, but there was no sign of the assailants. The one injured client was hospitalized for three days due to a concussion and head wound.

The subsequent police investigation narrowed on two suspects, Kwalae Leary and Henry Turner, two Burlington men with prior convictions. Officers gave them speeding tickets that evening on Church Street in Burlington. The case went to trial and resulted in convictions for both individuals.

The following evidence was presented at trial (September, 2019). Mr. Leary’s and Mr. Turner’s lawyers are thinking of appealing the convictions and have requested that you write an opinion letter. Read the facts of the hypothetical case and then write your opinion letter as a psychology and law expert, commenting on the issues you see as relevant to your expertise. Support your ideas with references to research studies/cases (cite the authors and year). Remember that experts comment on all aspects of the case for which they have expertise, so you can talk about good and bad aspects of the case.

Voir Dire

The pool of potential jurors was asked about their law enforcement connections, as well as their political affiliations. The prosecution used three challenges and rejected three men, all of whom self-identified as Black/African-American and claimed to be politically liberal. The defense used five challenges and rejected five women (4 self-identified as White, 1 self-identified as Asian who all claimed to be politically conservative). The final jury was composed of twelve individuals from Alamance County.


Officer Robert Parent of the Burlington police department asked one bank employee (Fred Smith) and one bank client (Anna Jackson) who were in the main room at the time of the crime to view a large mugshot book on January 14th, 2019. The book contained photographs of individuals from Alamance and neighboring counties who had been involved in thefts, robberies, and assaults. Mr. Smith and Ms. Jackson testified that together they had looked through the mugshot book carefully. Even though the assailants wore tape on the sides of their faces, they felt that two photos stood out and they were both on the first page of the book. These photos were of Mr. Leary and Mr. Turner.

Next, Officer Parent organized two simultaneous live lineups at the Alamance County courthouse the next day. One contained Mr. Leary and one contained Mr. Turner. Each person in the lineup wore strips of tape on their face like those worn by the robbers. Two bank employees (Mr. Ocean and Ms. Knowles) as well as two bank clients (Ms. Boisvert and Mr. Mousa) testified that they viewed the live lineups individually and all but Mr. Ocean positively identified Mr. Leary and Mr. Turner. Ms. Knowles, Ms. Boisvert, and Mr. Mousa testified that they had all rated their confidence in their decisions highly (8-10 out of 10). Mr. Ocean testified that he thought it might be them but was not sure enough to make identifications.

Following the live lineup, Officer Parent then conducted two photographic sequential lineups using previously obtained mugshots of the suspects with Mrs. Logan, the 88-year old woman who was injured in the robbery. Office Parent took the photo arrays to the hospital where Mrs. Logan was recovering. Officer Parent testified that Mrs. Logan moved through the first set of photos slowly, looking at each photo for approximately 30 seconds before moving on to the next one. After reaching the end she went back to photo three and identified Mr. Leary. Mrs. Logan testified that she rated her confidence as a 7/10. Mrs. Logan looked at the second photo lineup and identified Mr. Turner immediately (photo was in the first position). She rated her confidence as a 9/10.

Cross examination revealed that Officer Parent constructed the mugshot book from a variety of mugshots on file, some going back to the 1990s. Mr. Ocean, Ms. Knowles, Ms. Boisvert, and Mr. Mousa, who had viewed the live lineup at the courthouse, revealed under questioning that they had been seated in the courthouse hallway before viewing the lineups and that they could see Mr. Leary and Mr. Turner in the courtroom through an open doorway, standing near a uniformed officer of the court. Several minutes later, several other individuals who were used for the lineup filed through the courtroom. Mr. Mousa stated that while he was waiting in the same hallway for the upcoming live lineup, he saw an individual who resembled Mr. Leary at the far end of the hallway in handcuffs.


Kwalae Leary testified that he did not commit the robbery at the bank on the date in question because he was working from home that day. He stated that he worked from home three days a week on his computer doing online sales for a local business. He stated that he had a misdemeanor assault charge from 10 years ago when he was 18 and got into a fight with another 18 year old male outside a bar in Burlington. Mr. Leary stated that he had no need for money as his job paid quite well. He said that he had been on Church Street later that evening as he was on his way to the grocery store. Mr. Leary felt that the officers and prosecutors wanted to pin the crime on him because he was a known political activist in the county who often criticized the criminal justice system’s failures when it came to Black males.

Judy Iman of Burlington Diagnostics testified that Kwalae Leary appeared to be working online on the day in question. She stated that although she did not speak with Mr. Leary on the phone that afternoon, they did speak around lunchtime and his online log showed that he was active until past 5 pm.

Henry Turner testified that he did not commit the robbery at the bank because he was home alone that day, recovering from the flu. He stated that although he was not employed at the time of the crime, he had been up until two weeks prior when the store he was working at closed. He claimed not to know Mr. Leary and did not understand how he was tied to this crime. He testified that he was stopped for speeding on Church Street that day, but claimed that he was not actually speeding, and that the traffic stop was late in the evening, when he had gone to CVS for over-the-counter medicine.

Cross-Examination revealed that Mr. Turner had three prior drug arrests (possession of marijuana cigarettes) and one prior petty theft arrest (theft less than $50).


The Defense argued that there was not enough evidence to tie the crime to either Mr. Leary or Mr. Turner. The money, wallets, and smartphones had never been recovered and all positive identifications were questionable.


The Prosecution concluded that Mr. Leary and Mr. Turner had met each other through their past incarcerations and plotted to make easy money by robbing the bank. Multiple witnesses had identified them with confidence.


The judge instructed the jury to weigh the evidence carefully and explained what reasonable doubt is. She warned them that the past crimes should be used to assess the credibility of the defendants, but could not be used to assess their guilt for the current charges. The twelve-person jury was to deliberate for as long as they needed but were to come to a unanimous decision. The jury deliberated for 10 hours and rendered guilty verdicts for both defendants. Later, one juror stated that the prosecution’s case “just made the most sense.”

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