In the last few months, courts in New York, California, Ohio, and Illinois
have ruled unfavorably about the admissibility of false confession expert testimony. We're learning more and more about
false confessions, but far too often judges refuse to allow juries to benefit from this knowledge. Very unfortunate.
Regular visitors to this site know that I
object to the exclusion of testimony by false confession experts. A development
earlier this week suggests that other experts, too, can help fact-finders identify a false confession. A judge in North Carolina released a mentally ill false confessor who had been held in a state hospital
for 14 years. The Associated Press reports that the judge was influenced by a forensic psychologist “who said the flowing
narrative language of the typewritten document that Brown signed didn't match his halting speech.”In other words, this confession was not the sort of thing one would get from a man with an IQ of 50. It
may be that no expertise was needed to reach that conclusion, but it apparently helped the judge do the right thing.