The Truth About False Confessions

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Expert Witness
 
Richard Leo's new book on police interrogation includes a fine discussion about the value of a false confessions expert witness. Leo points out that the confessions expert may do more than educate judge or jury about false confessions. Because police and prosecutors don't like seeing flaws in their work exposed, expert testimony about false confessions "may deter police misbehavior in the long run and improve police and prosecutorial screening practices." 
 
 
12:54 pm est

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Terror Watch List
 
From the AP: "The Justice Department's former top criminal prosecutor says the government's terror watch list likely has caused thousands of innocent Americans to be questioned, searched or otherwise hassled." He should have added what no reasonable person can doubt: false confessions have resulted. 
 
 
7:57 am est

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Applaud The DA
 
New DNA tests establish that JonBenet Ramsey's parents did not kill their daughter. Unfortunately, they spent years under a cloud of suspicion fueled by the District Attorney's office. To her credit, Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy has apologized, writing to John Ramsey: "No innocent person should have to endure such an extensive trial in the court of public opinion." When it comes to false confessions, prosecutors are often less sensible and generous -- they insist on guilt even after DNA proves innocence.
 
9:03 am est

Monday, July 7, 2008

Expert Consultation
 
I have posted a number of times about the value of false confession expert testimony. While many courts do not permit such testimony, lawyers in such jurisdictions can still benefit from the false confessions expert. Such an expert, serving as consultant, can give the attorney an invaluable understanding of false confessions as well as suggestions for challenging his client's confession. 
 
8:09 am est

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Not Learning From History
 
The New York Times reports that military trainers in Guantanamo utilized techniques that the Chinese used against American prisoners during the Korean War -- which produced many false confessions.
 
 
7:43 am est

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Good News
 
When I introduced this site, a little more than 2 years ago, my first post was about Marty Tankleff. Thanks to a decision by New York's attorney general earlier this week, Tankleff is finally a free man. He had served almost two decades on account of what most observers consider his false confession.
 
10:21 am est


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