Attorneys Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld initiated the Innocence Project in 1992 to exonerate innocent people through DNA testing. In 1994 and years following, Professors Steven Drizin, Richard Leo, and Saul Kassin conducted studies of the then 125* DNA cases where persons were convicted of crimes they couldn’t have committed. They found:
• 25% of overturned wrongful convictions involved false confessions.
• 33% of the false confessions were by juveniles, disproportionally high.
• 84% of false confessions occurred after 6 hours of interrogation.
False confessions are much more prevalent than we ever thought. My greatest fear as an investigator was to convict someone who was innocent. Confessions are considered the Gold Standard, often overpowering all other evidence. We need to make sure confessions are true confessions.
If you have a confession you are concerned about, please call me. I’m now classified as an expert witness on Interviewing and Interrogation (2019 6th Circuit Court Oakland County Judge Rae Chabot on State of Michigan v Kevin Boyd). I may be able to help you.
*As of November 17, 2019 there are 189 exonerations
Crane v Kentucky¨ 476 U.S. 683¨ 688 ®1986©.
Confessions¨ even those that have been found to be voluntary¨ are not conclusive of guilt. And, as with
any other part of the prosecutor’s case¨ a confession may be shown to be insufficiently corroborated or
otherwise . . . unworthy of belief. Indeed¨ stripped of the power to describe to the jury the circumstances
that prompted his confession¨ the defendant is effectively disabled from answering the one question
every rational juror needs answered: If the defendant is innocent¨ why did he previously admit his guilt?
Accordingly¨ regardless of whether the defendant marshaled the same evidence earlier in support of an
unsuccessful motion to suppress¨ and entirely independent of any question of voluntariness¨ a
defendant’s case may stand or fall on his ability to convince the jury that the manner in which the
confession was obtained casts doubt on its credibility.