rejected a convicted defendant’s contention that his confession was coerced. The defendant claimed that he was promised leniency if he confessed, the Court observed, but “no such promise appears on the videotape of appellant’s statement.” Of course, very few detectives will make such a promise with the cameras rolling. That’s all the more reason to let them roll –during the entire interrogation, not just the confession itself.I couldn't agree more about recording interrogations - that would do a lot to avoid coerced confessions, or he-said/she-said situations like this one where no one can no for sure whether a defendant was coerced. What's more, writes Professor Hirsch, the court found that
even if the detective made the alleged promise, it did not amount to improper coercion. The defendant testified that he was promised that, if he confessed, “I would not be held accountable for actions or something of that sort.” The court of appeals held that “this assertion is vague at best, and does not amount to a positive promise that would likely induce a false confession.”
In fact, as all false confession experts know, even subtle hints can be interpreted as implying leniency. To allow interrogators to make various assurances, as long as they stop short of “a positive promise,” is to invite false confessions.