The problem of false confession is not limited to a small number of cases. These studies reveal that false confessions are therefore not an anomaly but a systematic feature of American criminal justice, despite procedural safeguards such as Miranda rights and a constitutional prohibition against legally coercive interrogation techniques. . . . Unless police change their procedures for selecting suspects and their interrogation practices, false confessions will continue to occur regularly.Reed suggests hopefully, "There are briefs to be written out of this book. If enough of them win, the reforms Leo proposes in his final chapter might begin to take hold." (If any attorney reading this happens to write and file such a brief, please be sure to forward me a copy.) I agree this is an area ripe for reform, if not in the courtroom then in the legislative arena.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
False confessions "a systematic feature of American criminal justice"
Reacting to this item about the fate of Christopher Ochoa and Richard Danziger, two Austin men wrongfully convicted because Ochoa confessed, even though innocent, in the face of intense police questioning, Anne Reed at the blog Deliberations points to a new, relevant book shedding further light on false confessions titled Police Interrogation And American Justice, by University of San Francisco law professor Richard Leo, soon to be published by Harvard University Press. Writes Leo: