The Truth About False Confessions

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Staggering Numbers
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."
3:10 pm est

Monday, January 21, 2008

Military Justice
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 the expert." 
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.
9:45 am est

Monday, January 14, 2008

False Confession Expert Testimony
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 confession. 
10:57 am est

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Body Language
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.
1:10 pm est

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Fantastic News To Start The Year
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.
9:51 am est

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