Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Interrogation and false confessions

I came across some interesting articles on police interrogation methods and false confessions after my trial was continued this morning (see what The Innocence Project has to say about the matter).

There's this one from Grits for Breakfast. Stephen Gustitis wrote this piece on the psychology of confession. Charles Weisselberg, a professor at the University of California School of Law authored this article on police interrogation tactics in California.

The Reid Technique sets out 9 steps of interrogation. This method seeks to coerce a confession by use of moral justification. The interrogator limits the suspect's responses and presents him with a way out by offering him two choices -- one of which is less morally challenging than the other.

For a practical lesson in interrogation techniques, check out Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon. Simon spent a year with the homicide detectives of the Baltimore, MD Police Department. The television series Homicide: Life on the Street was based on his book. There is a chilling interrogation scene in the book which, if you close your eyes, you can see Andre Braugher's character, Det. Frank Pembleton, conducting.

I tell friends, clients and potential clients that if they are being accused of committing a crime, NEVER talk to the police without consulting an attorney. I have had cases in which my client all but made the case against him because of what he said to the cops. Those who are actually innocent of the charge do themselves the most harm because they have nothing to hide -- and they hide nothing.

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