Montana

A few weeks ago the Supreme Court of Montana reversed a conviction (in a case I was involved with years ago) because the trial court wrongly allowed the defendant’s confession into evidence.  The court based its decision, in part, on misrepresentations made by law enforcement to the defendant.  Insofar as such misrepresentations contribute to false confessions,  this is an important ruling.

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Big Development

Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, one of the leading firms for training interrogators, now acknowledges that the Reid Technique contributes to false confessions.  Wicklander will no longer promote confrontational modes of interrogation.

Billy Wayne Cope

Billy Wayne Cope, who spent the last 16 years of his life imprisoned for a crime he almost certainly did not commit, passed away last month.  Most neutral observers agree that Cope gave a false confession in a truly tragic case.

EDUCATING JURORS

Courts increasingly permit defendants to offer a false confessions expert witness to educate the jury about (among other things) the interrogation methods that contribute to false confessions.  I personally have testified in 25 cases to date.

WARNING ABOUT MIRANDA

Prosecutors often emphasize to the jury that the defendant waived his Miranda rights and agreed to talk.  But what follows?  People who give false confessions are, by definition, innocent.  And most innocent people feel they have no reason not to talk.