Bad News From Pennsylvania

Last week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the testimony of false confessions experts is inadmissible.  Given that such experts (including myself) help educate jurors about the counter-intutiive phenomenon of false confessions, this is a regrettable decision.  Contrary to the Court’s reasoning, the expert witness on false confessions does not invade the province of the jury.  To the contrary, he or she offers valuable assistance to the jury, typically sharing knowledge about risky interrogation methods and whether they were used in a given case.  It always remains for the jury to decide, based on all the circumstances, whether a particular confession is reliable.