Diet sodas linked to increased risks for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Diet coke anyone?
Why so few comments? You cannot be an assistant public defender and get through a week without a client telling you s/he was forced to confess. And yet so little chatter....
If you practice criminal defense, you know innocent people confess. If you are a member of the rest of the planet, (judges and prosecutors included) you can't conceive of an innocent person confessing to a crime.
As criminal defense practitioners, that knowledge gap is our fault and we have the responsibility to educate the rest of the world that cares.
The NY Times helped out over the weekend with an OP ED piece by David K Shipler, from whose book "Rights At Risk: The Limits Of Liberty in Modern America." the piece was adapted.
From the article:
If you have never been tortured, or locked up and verbally threatened, you may find it hard to believe that anyone would confess to something he had not done. Intuition holds that the innocent do not make false confessions. What on earth could be the motive? To stop the abuse? To curry favor with the interrogator? To follow some fragile thread of imaginary hope that cooperation will bring freedom?
Yes, all of the above. Psychological studies of confessions that have proved false show an overrepresentation of children, the mentally ill and mentally retarded, and suspects who are drunk or high. They are susceptible to suggestion, eager to please authority figures, disconnected from reality or unable to defer gratification. Children often think...that they will be jailed if they keep up their denials and will get to go home if they go along with interrogators. ..
Officers are taught to use all the tricks and lies that courts permit within the scope of the Fifth Amendment’s shield against self-incrimination...When a skilled questioner splices it nonchalantly into conversation, the warning’s empowering message of choice can be lost on a suspect. Many false confessors have been routinely Mirandized in this perfunctory manner.
To get people talking, the Reid training also recommends questions that imply leniency without making explicit promises, and that reduce moral responsibility by blaming peer pressure: “Was this your idea or did your buddies talk you into it?” Interrogators are advised to pretend to have evidence but not to fabricate it. A suspect can be shown a card bearing a latent fingerprint and be told: “This is your fingerprint. We found it inside that stolen car.”
This is the fact that keeps us up at nights: Considering that DNA is available in just a fraction of all crimes, a much larger universe of erroneous convictions — and false confessions — surely exists.
Rumpole says: We now know that innocent people confess to horrible crimes. The science is there to back up the accusation. But what we as criminal practitioners do with that knowledge and empirical data is up to us. We can moan about the unfairness of it all, or we can fight back. How? Create a lecture and offer to give it to a judicial conference. Write articles and offer them to judicial and prosecutorial publications. start a dialogue. Be persuasive. Do our job.
See You In Court.