Prison Reform

I endorse Van Jones’ prison reform efforts.  The need to improve conditions in prisons is all the more important when we realize how many innocent people they house — partly as a result of false confessions.


Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case of Brendan Massey, which likely involved a false confession.  Accordingly, Massey remains incarcerated despite two courts finding that his confession was coerced.  Very disappointing.


Last week Marty Tankleff reached a $10 million settlement with Suffolk County, New York.  Tankleff, who gave a coerced false confession to killing his parents, served 17 years in prison before his conviction was vacated.  His was the first case I wrote up on this website, and one of the first in which I served as a false confessions expert.


My testimony last week at a trial in Alaska marked my 30th appearance as an expert witness on false confessions.  The false confessions expert can, among other things, help a jury understand this counter-intuitive phenomenon.


Earlier this month, in the case of Dassey v. Dittmann, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a state court’s determination that a confession to rape/murder by a minor was voluntary.  Most encouraging, though, is Judge Rovner’s excellent dissenting opinion arguing that courts’ treatment of police trickery in a voluntariness determination needs to be rethought based on our increasing understanding of false confessions.

False Confessions Expert

Attorneys looking for a false confessions expert witness should know that I have been qualified as an expert in the following jurisdictions: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee,  Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and federal court in Mississippi.