We're up to 212 DNA exonerations of people convicted of crimes and, according
to the Innocence Project, in more than 25% of these cases the innocent person "made incriminating statements, delivered outright
confessions or pled guilty."
An excellent, new article in the prestigious Military Law Review
argues that "once the defense has made a 'colorable showing' that police interrogators used psychological interrogation methods
against an accused, the court should acknowledge the necessity for expert assistance and direct the Government to appoint
I've posted a lot about the value of false confessions experts, and everything
I've said applies in spades to the military justice system.
In the last few months, I've been called to testify at three trials.
I'll be posting about some of those experiences, but for present purposes I want to remind defense attorneys that retaining
a false confession expert witness can level playing the field. Even if you're in a jurisdiction which disallows such
testimony, an expert can offer valuable consultation -- assisting you in understanding and challenging your client's
Fox Television's The O'Reilly Factor regularly features an alleged
expert in body language. With encouragement from the host, she analyzes the movements of people talking on tape and informs us
what's going on in their heads -- including whether they're telling the truth. This silly exercise bolsters belief in
human lie detection, which is a very bad thing. The fiction that we can reliably tell whether someone is truthful based on
body language plays a major role in producing false confessions. Police subject suspects to their dangerous interrogation
practices only after determining their guilt -- usually by observing their body language or verbal cues. Numerous studies
debunk the idea that interrogators (or anyone else) are skilled at human lie detection, but the myth persists.
Prosecutors have decided not to re-try Marty Tankleff, which means the
wrongly-convicted man is finally fully in the clear. If justice delayed is justice denied, then Tankleff, who served
18 years, was most certainly denied justice. But some good will come of his tragic mistreatment if it helps educate the
public and law enforcement about the perils of modern interrogation techniques.