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Northwestern University School of Law

The Consequences of False Confessions: Deprivations of Liberty and Miscarriages of Justice in
the Age of Psychological Interrogation
Author(s): Richard A. Leo and Richard J. Ofshe
Source: The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973-), Vol. 88, No. 2 (Winter, 1998), pp.
429-496
Published by: Northwestern University School of Law
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1144288
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0091-4169/98/8802-0429
THEJOURNALOF CRIMINAL
LAW& CRIMINOLOGY

Copyright0 1998 by NorthwesternUniversity,School of Law

Vol. 88, No. 2
Pinted in USA.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF FALSE
CONFESSIONS: DEPRIVATIONS OF
LIBERTYAND MISCARRIAGESOF JUSTICE
IN THE AGE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL
INTERROGATION*
RICHARD A. LEO" AND RICHARD J. OFSHE""

I. INTRODUCTION
A. DEFINING THE PROBLEM

Because a confession is universally treated as damning and
compelling evidence of guilt,' it is likely to dominate all other
case evidence and lead a trier of fact to convict the defendant.2
A false confession is therefore an exceptionally dangerous piece
of evidence to put before anyone adjudicating a case. In a
criminal justice system whose formal rules are designed to
minimize the frequency of unwarranted arrest, unjustified
prosecution, and wrongful conviction, police-induced false confessions rank amongst the most fateful of all official errors.
We thank Robert Perske and Michael L. Radelet for providing case materials, and
we thank David T. Johnson, Gary Marx and Welsh White for helpful comments.
Assistant Professor of Criminology, Law and Society, University of California, Irvine; Assistant Professor of Sociology and Adjoint Professor of Law, University of
Colorado, Boulder; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley; J.D., University of California, Berkeley.
"'"Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley; Ph.D., Stanford University.
See Saul M. Kassin & Lawrence S. Wrightsman, ConfessionEvidence, in THE
OF CONFESSIONEVIDENCE& TRIALPROCEDURE
PSYCHOLOGY
67, 67-68 (SAULM. KASSIN&
S. WRIGHTSMAN
LAWRENCE
eds., 1985) [hereinafter Kassin & Wrightsman, Confession
Evidence]; 3JOHN HENRYWIGMORE,WIGMOREON EVIDENCE? 815 (1972); DAVIDSIMON,

A YEARON THEKILLING
HOMICIDE:
(1991); Richard A. Leo, Inside theInterrogaSTREETS
tion Room, 86J. CRIM.L. & CRIMINOLOGY
266, 298 (1996) [hereinafter Leo, Inside the
InterrogationRoom].
2 SeeKassin &
Wrightsman, ConfessionEvidence,supra note 1, at 67; Saul M. Kassin &
Lawrence S. Wrightsman, CoercedConfessions,Judicial Instructions,and MockJuror Ver489, 489 (1981) [hereinafter Kassin &
dicts, 11 J. OF APPLIEDSOCIALPSYCHOLOGY
Wrightsman, CoercedConfessions];Saul M. Kassin & Lawrence S. Wrightsman, Prior
SOCIAL
133, 133 (1980)
PSYCHOLOGY
Confessionsand MockJuror Verdicts,10 J. OFAPPLIED
[hereinafter Kassin & Wrightsman, Prior Confessions].

429
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430

LEO& OFSHE

[Vol. 88

As many investigators have recognized, the problems caused
by police-induced false confessions are significant, recurrent,
and deeply troubling.3 Police elicit false confessions so frequently that social science researchers, legal scholars, and journalists have discovered and documented numerous case
examples in this decade alone.4
'

SeeDONALDS. CONNERY,CONVICTING
THE INNOCENT:THE STRUGGLEOFA MURDER,
A FALSECONFESSION,AND THE STRUGGLETO FREEA "WRONGMAN" ix-xii (1996); C.
RONALDHUFF ET AL., CONVICTEDBUT INNOCENT:WRONGFULCONVICTIONAND PUBLIC
S. WRIGHTSMAN
IN
& SAUL M. KASSIN,CONFESSIONS
POLICYxxi-xxiii (1996); LAWRENCE
THE COURTROOM2-3 (1993); GISLIGUDJONSSON,THE PSYCHOLOGY
OF INTERROGATIONS,
ANDTESTIMONY(1992); MARTINYANT,PRESUMED
CONFESSIONS
GUILTY:WHEN INNOCENT
PEOPLEAREWRONGLYCONVICTED11-14 (1991); ROBERTPERSKE,UNEQUALJUSTICE1112 (1991); JEROMEFRANK& BARBARAFRANK,NOT GUILTY(1957); EDWARDRADIN,THE
INNOCENTS11-12 (1964); EDWINM. BORCHARD,CONVICTING
THEINNOCENT:ERRORSOF
CRIMINALJUSTICE vii (1932);
NATIONAL COMM'N ON LAW OBSERVANCEAND
IN LAWENFORCEMENT
REPORTON LAWLESSNESS
11 (1931) [hereinafter
ENFORCEMENT,
THEWICKERSHAM
Welsh S. White, False Confessionsand the ConstituCOMM'NREPORT];
tion: SafeguardsAgainst UntrustworthyConfessions,32 HARV.C.R.-C.L. L. REV.105, 109
(1997); Kassin & Wrightsman, ConfessionEvidence,supra note 1, at 68; Hugo Adam Bedau & Michael L. Radelet, MiscarriagesofJusticein PotentiallyCapital Cases,40 STAN.L.
REV.21, 22 (1987).
BYSCIENCE:CASE
' See EDWARDCONNORSET AL., CONVICTEDBYJURIES,EXONERATED
STUDIESIN THE USE OF DNA EVIDENCETO ESTABLISHINNOCENCEAFTERTRIAL (1996);
HUFF ET AL., supra note 3; CONNERY,supra note 3; ROGERPARLOFF,TRIPLEJEOPARDY:A
STORYOF LAWAT ITSBEST-AND WORST (1996); KEVINDAVIS,THE WRONGMAN: A TRUE
STORY(1996); JIM FISHER,FALLGUYs: FALSECONFESSIONS
ANDTHEPOLITICSOF MURDER
(1996); PAUL MONES, STALKINGJUSTICE
(1995); STEVENLINSCOTr, MAXIMUMSECURITY
(1994); GUDJONSSON,supra note 3; YANT, supra note 3; ROBERTMAYER,THE DREAMSOF

ADA(1991); PERSKE,
supra note 3.
See also Richard J. Ofshe & Richard A. Leo, The Decision to ConfessFalsely:Rational
Choiceand IrrationalAction, 74 DENV.U. L. REV.979 (1997) [hereinafter Ofshe & Leo,
TheDecisionto ConfessFalsely];Richard J. Ofshe & Richard A. Leo, TheSocialPsychology
of PoliceInterrogation:The Theoryand Classificationof Trueand False Confessions,16 STUD.
INL., POL.,& SOC'Y189 (1997) [hereinafter Ofshe & Leo, SocialPsychology];GailJohnson, False Confessionsand FundamentalFairness:TheNeedfor ElectronicRecordingof Custodial Interrogations,6 B.U. PUB. INT. L.J. 719 (1997); Saul M. Kassin, The Psychologyof
221 (1997); White, supra note 3; Michael Radelet
ConfessionEvidence,52 AM. PSYCHOL.
et al., PrisonersReleasedFromDeathRowsSince 1970 Becauseof DoubtsAboutTheirGuilt, 13
False
L. REV.907 (1996); T.N. Thomas, Polygraphyand Coerced-Compliant
T.M. COOLEY
&
E'
35
133
Serviceman
McMahon,
Redevivus,
False
(1995);
Mickey
Confession:
SCI. JUST.
Confessionsand PoliceDeception:TheInterrogation,Incarcerationand Releaseof An Innocent
5 (1995); Paul Hourihan, Earl Washington'sConPSYCHOL.
Veteran,13 AM.J. FORENSIC
fession: Mental Retardationand the Law of Confessions,81 VA. L. REV. 1471 (1995);
Wrightsman & Kassin, Confessionsin the Courtroom,supra note 3; Richard J. Ofshe, Inadvertent Hypnosis During Interrogation, 40 INT'LJ. CLINICAL& EXPERIMENTAL
HYPNOSIS

125 (1992) [hereinafter Ofshe, InadvertentHypnosis].
DAILY
SeegenerallyLack of EvidenceLeads to SitkaMurderAcquittal,ANCHORAGE
NEWS,
June 25, 1997, at B4 [hereinafter Lack ofEvidence];Tom Held, Justice Gets2nd Chance
in MurderCase:Victims'Son WantsFair Trial, No DeathPenalty Threatfor AccusedOutlaws,
MILWAUKEE
June 12, 1997, at 1; Bryan Smith, Suspects'ConfessionsMay
J. & SENTINEL,
Hide Truth, OREGONIAN,
Feb. 23, 1997, at D1; Bob Herbert, Prosecutor'sPrize, N.Y.
TIMES,Jan. 29, 1996, at A5; Mike Folks, Man ChargedWithMurderReleased;Fingerprints
Oct. 12, 1996, at B1;
Didn't Match OnesFound at Scene,FT. LAUDERDALE
SUN-SENTINEL,

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Jim Phillips. at 15 [hereinafter Siegel. at B4. 1994.A. VerifySuspectWasin MexicanJail During Last Year'sFirestorm. at 58 [hereinafter Parloff. 1988 Simi the TIMES. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . or how much personal and social harm false confessions cause..Oct.NEWSDAY. and (3) the ground truth (what really happened) may remain in genuine dispute even after a defendant has pled Barry Siegel. ARK.SACRAMENTO BEE.VIRGINIANSTAR. 23. A QuestionofJustice:A Father'sPlea Oct. Nightmareof ConfessionContinues. 1993. B3. Jailed Man Set Free].SEATTLE Guilty Until ProvenInnocent: The CriminalJustice SystemDoes Not ProtecttheInnocent. Now.211 on Tue. David Rossmiller & Glen Creno.Carlos V.Aug. This is because: (1) no organization collects statistics on the annual number of interrogations and confessions or evaluates the reliability of confession statements. Giarratano. 1990.. Man Released. at Al [hereinafter Shellem. 1990. 1994.34. at C26.CHI. Oregon ProsecutorJim Mdntyre ThoughtHe Had a Rock-SolidCase Against LavernePavlinac andJohn Sosnovske.C.. 1993. Robert P.CITYSTAR. A Peek at Back AlleyJustice.June 26. INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Innocent. 12. 1996 (Magazine). LAW. 19. 1992. 9. A Questionof Guilt].111. 7. SomeStrangeCasesExaminedof InnocentsWhoConfessto Murder. BreakKilling SuspectCleared: Shoup Among 4 Held in Canadian's Death. ConfessionsFalse. Proof of Innocence Approved at Hearing. Ring True UnderQuestioning.NEWORLEANS Feb.S. False ConfesReturnedto Family. The Tragedyof False Confessions. Barry Siegel.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 431 Yet no one knows precisely how often false confessions occur in the United States. 1990. July 24.SuspectsFall Victimto TheirOwn Imaginations.DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE. TIMES. from May 1. Shapiro.000.July27. 31. at B4. 11. Murder fense. TIMES.. sephM. ExpertPicks at Confession PILOT& THELEDGER Feb. Jailed Man Set Free After False Confession. But Behind Bars. In 1982 a New MexicoMan Said He Killed a Priest. True Confessions-Or False?. at B1.L. WronglyImprisonedMan Will Get $605. 1995. Sigman. at 41. 1. 1994. False Confessions for BradleyPage. TIMESMAG. Jan. June Arney. Mark Paxton. This content downloaded from 146. 16. 1990. Glen Chase. at Is ProvedBo36.Sept. New Castle.Then SomeoneStartedWritingAnonymousLettersClaimingCreditfor the Murder. 1995.Two ClaimedResponsibility for Murders. Joe Darby. at 1A. John Holland.Apr. Michael Granberry. Roger Parloff. 1991. 13. at Al. A Questionof Guilt When Taunja Bennettwas Killed in 1990.U.A.AM. NEWSWEEK. at Al. 4. 2. A PeekAt Back AlleyJustice]. at B5. at 1A. "Confessor" Jan. DeValleySlaying. July 31. at He KilledFriend GetsProbationfor ScaringHer. Cityto ProbePoliceon False Confession.A. TIMES. at 23. 1990. 1994. STATESMAN. DAYTONA NEWSJ. ChargesDroppedin Laguna Arson When"Confession" gus. DA: ScrapMurderIndictment. ProsecutorsAdmit TheyWereDuped. William Booher. 1991.COMM.BloodyBoot Prints Led Him To DoubtHis Own Confession.Sept. Rob Warden. TIMES. 1996. 21. Ex-RanchForemanAcquittedof MurderDespitea ConfessionCrime:A Jury Official Evidenceto Substantiate"the ChargeStemming Says theProsecutionFailed to Provide "Separate L.Feb. 16.PHOENIX GAZETTE. 9.Jack Page. 1995. NEWS& WORLD REP. at C1. ProsecutorsReject MurderConfession..KAN. how frequently false confessions lead to wrongful convictions.Mar. 1996. But All Four SuspectWere Innocent. (2) most interrogations leading to disputed confessions are not recorded. at B10. There'sStrongEvidenceHe Didn't. EASTBAYEXPRESS.AnotherMan Confessedto Murder. Sept.A. Marc Perrusquia. 1994. JoTIMES-PICAYUNE. Courts:O. Claire Cooper.APPEAL. HARRISBURG PATRIOT. Man WhoSaid Nov. to Murder Says He Was Coerced. at Al. sions: Standard Interrogationsby Arizona Law EnforcementOfficialsLed to Four Matching Confessionsto the Murdersof Nine Peopleat a Buddhist Temple. False Confessions]. L. Ginny SaysErrorsSuggestsMisskelleyLied. at B2. Joseph P. Portland. Jolayne Houtz.TULSAWORLD.34 (1990). Mark Sauer. AUSTINAM. Lozano. at 1 [hereinafter Siegel. 6.SAN DIEGOUNION& TRIB.May 1993.June 19. at 1. at Al.Henry Countyand StateMust Payfor 18 MonthsBehindBars. Carolyn Colwell. Carroll.Whyis this RetardedMan in Prison?. Pete Shellem.Mom'sOtherSons Mar.L.Jan. 1993.

FRANK & FRANK. at 58..supra note 3. supra note 3. they identified 416 cases since 1900 in which innocent CAPITAL This content downloaded from 146.. HUFFETAL.GANEY. YANT...6 The lack of such information also prevents researchers from estimating the full magnitude of personal and social harm that police-induced false confessions cause: the days and months innocent persons spend in pre-trial incarceration.LEO & OFSHE 432 [Vol. Bedau and Radelet identified false confession as the leading cause of wrongful convictions attributable to police misconduct.supra note 3.JOSEPH'S supra note 4. e.g. Radelet et al. 5 See. and the additional crimes carried out by the true perpetrators. The leading contemporary research in this tradition is Bedau and Radelet's 9 landmark study of miscarriages of justice. In total.34.5 These problems prevent researchers from defining a universe of confession cases. Although it is presently not possible to estimate the magnitude of harm caused by false confessions.supra note 4. supranote 3. e. Of the cases they studied.111. 88 guilty or been convicted.. 14% resulted from coerced or persuaded false confessions. the months and years defendants languish in prison after wrongful conviction. MONES.g. SeeBedau & Radelet. 6 In their study of 350 miscarriages of justice in capital (and potentially capital) cases in the twentieth century. supra note 3.7 a series of investigators8 have documented numerous cases of wrongful arrest and conviction of the innocent in the United States. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . MAYER. and dollars wasted prosecuting and defending them. supranote 3. and confidently determining the truth or falsity of each underlying confession. Until these methodological obstacles are overcome. FALSECONFESSIONS AND THE ADMINISTRATION OFJUSTICE Following Edwin Borchard's pioneering study of miscarriages of justice.211 on Tue. RADIN. IN SPITE OF INNOCENCE: ERRONEOUS CONVICTIONS IN CASES(1992). sampling a subset. supra note 4. no one can authoritatively estimate the rate of police-induced false confessions or the annual number of wrongful convictions caused by false confessions. this article sheds light on another dark corner of the problem by addressing the following questions: What is the impact of demonstrably unreliable confession evidence on criminal justice officials? What are the consequences of false confessions on defendants as they move through the criminal justice system? And how much influence does a false confession alone exert on the decision-making of jurors? B. RADELET ET AL. see also MICHAEL L. CHILDREN: A TRUE STORY OF TERROR ANDJUSTICE (1989).supra note 3. See. TERRYJ. SeeBedau & Radelet. the resources.9 We continue the tradition of reST. time. 7 8 BORCHARD.

the Supreme Court turned its attention from constitutional questions raised by physical coercion to the problems raised by psychologically oriented interrogation practices. Rogers v. 367 U. Id. Alabama. Arizona. if used together. 315 (1959).S.S. Bedau and Radelet's research persuasively demonstrates that "our criminal justice system is fallible and the gravest possible errors in its administration can be documented. (1936)..10and by analyzing the consequences of these defendants were wrongfully convicted of capital or potentially capital crimes. the Supreme Court directly addressed the policy problem of psychologically-based methods by mandating that police issue a set of code-like constitutional warnings and elicit a waiver from suspects prior to custodial questioning.g.34.S. Bedau and Radelet identified the four main sources of wrongful conviction: (1) police error prior to trial. Haynes v. 373 U. Police Interrogation in America]. FromCoercionto Deception:The Changing Nature of Police Interrogationin America. 143 (1944). and thereby avoid and/or escape the potentially coercive pressures the Warren Court believed to be present in modern methods of interrogation. While the Miranda Court acknowledged that no single tactic was likely to overbear a suspect's will.S. 49 (1949). of Calif. 503 (1963).S. 191 (1957). 227 (1940). police regularly resorted to physical force and duress to extract confessions. at 448-55.111.e. 324 U. Indiana. See. in Miranda v. 338 U. 384 U. In a series of decisions between 1940 and 1963.S. Leyra v. 528 (1963). the Court turned to police training manuals to assess methods of psychological interrogation and concluded that some of these methods were heavy-handed and oppressive. New York.S. and (4) miscellaneous types of system error. 568 (1961). 365 U.S. ERNEST HOPKINS. Leo. Florida.supra note 3. Civility and Social Change 53-65 (Ph. Lynumn v. SeeWICKERSHAM COMM'NREPORT.211 on Tue. 372 U. 436 (1966). 309 U. 347 U. '0 In little more than a half century. supranote 3. Denno. Tennessee. Recognizing that miscarriages of justice are caused by a wide variety of factors. EMMANUEL LAVINE. (2) prosecutorial error before or during trial.S. Fikes v. Culombe v. See Brown v. 401 (1945). at 467. at ixx. 360 U.S. at 46. SAMUEL PROFESSIONALISM 132-34 (1977). In 1966. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . dissertation. Though no one knows the magnitude of harm caused by wrongful convictions or the number of innocent individuals wrongfully executed in this century. Mississippi. FromCoercionto Deception].D.OUR LAWLESS POLICE:A JEROME STUDY OF THE UNLAWFUL ENFORCEMENT OF THE LAW 3-14 (1931). 352 U.S. Id. the movement toward police professionalization. and Supreme Court decisions outlawing physical force during interrogation eventually led to a shift to psychological tactics. Leo. psychologically coercive practices flourished and police continued to elicit involuntary and unreliable confessions. 534 (1961). Malinski v. 297 U. the Court recognized that these methods. Id. could easily overcome This content downloaded from 146. at Berkeley 1994) (on file with author) [hereinafter Leo. The fourfold Miranda warnings informed suspects of their constitutional right to refuse and/or terminate custodial questioning. Spano v. Throughout the first third of the twentieth century. 278 A CRITICAL HISTORY OFPOLICE THEEMERGENCE REFORM: OF WALKER. Richmond. (3) witness error during depositions or testimony.S. Univ. Watts v. Ashcraft v. Police Interrogation in America: A Study of Violence. Washington. Illinois. Growing public revulsion toward third degreepractices. & Soc.S. CHANGE35 (1992) [hereinafter Leo. 322 U. American interrogation practices have undergone a remarkable change. Chambers v. In response. the Court analyzed the conditions under which psychological methods produce involuntary confessions." Bedau & Radelet. SeegenerallyRichard A. THE THIRD DEGREE: A DETAILED AND APPALLING EXPOSE OF POLICE BRUTALITY 3-9 (1930). Though American interrogation methods became far less assaultive during the 1940s and 1950s.L. Unable to observe directly what happened in interrogation rooms. New York. Connecticut.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 433 search into errors in the criminal justice system by reporting a study of sixty cases of police-induced false confessions in the post-Miranda era. 556 (1954). SeeRichard A. 18 CRIME.

The post-admission narrative is the statement the suspect gives to police after making the "I did it" admission. In the 31 years since Miranda. Id. Under these conditions. a suspect's ability to resist an interrogator's demand for confession and result in an involuntary confession. at 191-94. at 448-55. the Court created a bright line rule to more clearly and more effectively regulate the admissibility of psychologically-induced confession statements. Seeid. sometimes coerce false confessions from the innocent without resorting to force.supra. it recognized that American interrogation tactics had become almost entirely psychological in nature. See 20/20: Confessionat Gunpoint?(ABC News Television Broadcast.434 LEO& OFSHE [Vol. From Coercion to Deception. " SeeOfshe & Leo.211 on Tue. This content downloaded from 146. SeegenerallyOfshe & Leo. TheDecisionto ConfessFalsely.S. Mar. and refined psychological methods of interrogation. Miranda. 1991) [hereinafter Confessionat Gunpoint?]. With contemporary psychological methods. police now routinely elicit true confessions from the guilty without resorting to physical or psychological coercion. Even though interrogation practices today are psychologically-oriented. Miranda marked the end of third degreeinterrogations and the establishment of a new era of psychological interrogation techniques and strategies. and. however. American police sometimes resort to third degreemethods. Interrogators may have become more effective at obtaining confession statements than they were in the prior era of thirddegreeinterrogation. A confession is a full description of a person's participation in a crime. at 448.supranote 4. The research design thus allows measurement of the effect of an untrue admission when a detective. American police have developed.88 errors affecting defendants as they move through the criminal justice system. While the Miranda Court noted that police still resorted to violent interrogation methods on occasion. extended. 12 For analytic purposes we distinguish between an admission ("I did it") and a confession.111. and because most confessions are corroborated by additional evidence. The research reported here isolates the effect of a defendant's "I did it" statement on the decision-making of criminal justice officials and juries by studying only cases in which the defendant's confession is not supported by any physical or reliable inculpatory evidence. SocialPsychology. interrogation practices have become increasingly subtle and sophisticated.supranote 4. 384 U. As a consequence. 29. prosecutor.34. elicit false confessions from the factually innocent by persuading them they committed crimes about which they have no recollection. Leo. judge or jury is required to weigh the admission against evidence that would ordinarily establish the defendant's innocence. it is impossible to isolate the effect of the defendant's "I did it" admission2 on the decision-making of criminal justice officials and juries because the confession co-varies with inculpatory witness or physical evidence. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ." We suggest that confessions are regarded as the most damning and persuasive evidence of guilt simply because most suspects who confess are guilty. See id. Recognizing that psychological interrogation methods can produce both involuntary and unreliable confessions. less commonly. at 36-37.

supra note 2. 17. And this article examines with field data13 whether confession evidence substantially biases a trier of fact even when the defendant's statement was elicited by coercive methods. 45.D (describing and numbering the cases studied in this article). a governor requested consultation in connection with a pardon under consideration. 16 The authors obtained case file materials (either substantial or selected portions) directly from the attorney(s) representing the confessor in 17 cases (nos. " Kassin. police transcripts. 35.g. directly from case files. 2. supra note 4. HUFF ET AL. The research reported here is no different. 40. The sixty cases dis'" See Kassin & Wrightsman. 47. This content downloaded from 146. academic journal articles. METHOD A. and incarceration of the innocent. See infra Part II. we have tried to draw directly on interviews. The confessors' attorneys typically requested consultation at a suppression hearing and/or criminal trial. 49. Finally. SELECTION AND CLASSIFICATION Cases of disputed confessions were identified through multiple sources: electronic media database searches. Bedau & Radelet. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 3. CoercedConfessions. By necessity... II. prosecution. 18.supra note 2.15Part III describes the findings of our research. 28. during the postconviction appeal. ' Due to the difficulty of directly obtaining case materials-especially in lesser known cases--all social science and legal research on miscarriage of justices relies on both primary and secondary source materials. but in many instances we were only able to obtain newspaper and magazine accounts. 58). 43.111. Kassin & Wrightsman.34. YANT. appellate court opinions. and in which other evidence proves or strongly supports the defendant's innocence. at 492-504." We explore this issue with cases in which the defendant's statement has not only been coerced but is also demonstrably unreliable. and trial records. Part II of this article discusses the selection and classification of the sixty disputed confession cases under study. we rely on a variety of sources to document our assertions of fact. 21. Part V discusses the import of this research and offers some concluding remarks.supra note 3. 50. at 136-45. supra note 3. or in a civil proceeding following the termination of criminal charges. In one case. at 221. e. 16. See. supra note 3. Prior Confessions. conviction. Part IV analyzes the deprivations of liberty and miscarriages ofjustice associated with the sixty cases described in this article. This article also analyzes how likely police-induced false confessions are to lead to the wrongful arrest.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 435 This article explores whether contemporary American psychological interrogation practices continue to induce false confessions like the third degreemethods that preceded them.16and from secondary sources. 34.211 on Tue. and/or books. 46. Where possible.

the suspectsupposedlyalsoconsnitches"-atthe sametimethathe wasbusyrecanting fessedto so-called'"jailhouse confessionto everyoneelse.2o For example. See REPORT OF THE 1989-90 Los ANGELES COUNw GRAND JURY. the true perpetrator was caught and '7In manyof the casesidentifiedin thispaper. JUSTICESYSTEMIN Los ANGELESCOUNTY(June 26. at 990-97. The analysis of some cases was based on access to virtually the entire case file.111. L. No HonorAmong Thieves. Mark Curriden. Rather they were selected because they share a single characteristic: an individual was arrested primarily because police obtained an inculpatory statement that later turned out to be a proven.75 A. Based on the available sources.Q. Toward A New Vision of Informants:A History of Abusesand Suggestionsfor Reform. a defendant's confession was classified as proven false if the murder victim turned up alive.'9 Based on the strength of the evidence indicating a defendant's probable innocence. For the thirty-four cases classified as provenfalse confessions. every case the defendant's "I did it" admission or supportcorroborating ing the conclusion that he was guilty. highly probable false confession. TheDecisionto ConfessFalsely.BA.supranote 4. false confession. or probable false confession. "8The defendant's post-admission narrative of the crime is the actual detailed confession statement that follows the "I did it" admission. For a fuller discussion of the post-admission narrative. see Ofshe & Leo. the confessor's innocence was established by at least one dispositive piece of independent evidence. Based on the information that we obtained and reviewed.'8 suspect's post-admission tory in included this there was no credible evidence study. all of the cases studied satisfy the following conditions: no physical or other significant and credible evidence indicated the suspect's guilt. '9The amount of information on these cases varies. J. 1990). each case was classified into one of three categories: proven false confession. 81. or highly likely. Some investigations. no credible evidence supporting the confessor's guilt was discovered in any of the cases reported in this article. INVESTIGATION OF THE INVOLVEMENT OF JAIL HOUSE INFORMANTS IN THE CRIMINAL as credible. See infra notes 26-29 and accompanying text. Becausejailhousesnitchesstandto his uncorroborated we do not regardtheirtestimony gainmaterialconcessionsandsentencereductions. 20 See infra text accompanying notes 34-88. involved questionable evidence that later proved to be unreliable. however. 136-80." the state's evidence consisted of little or nothing more than the suspect's statement "I did it.211 on Tue.88 cussed below do not constitute a statistically adequate sample of false confession cases. 54-56 (1989). Clifford Zimmerman." and the suspect's factual innocence was supported by a variable amount of evisubstantial and compelling-including dence-often exculpaevidence from the For narrative. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .436 LEO& OFSHE [Vol.22 HASTINGS CONST.34. 52. while the analysis of other cases was limited to journalists' accounts or published appellate court opinions. 93-97 (1994). This content downloaded from 146.

Nevertheless. there is a possibility that our classification of the case might be in error. 181-305.111. In each of these cases. but the confession statement itself also lacked internal indicia of reliability. Seeinfra text accompanying notes 123-35. or scientific evidence exonerated the defendant.211 on Tue. the confession lacked internal reliability. 306-61. Rather. no credible independent evidence supported the conclusion that the confession was true. This content downloaded from 146. and the confession lacked internal indicia of reliability. it remains theoretically possible that one or more of the defendants we classify as false confessors may have committed the crime.2' In these cases. For the eight cases classified as probablefalse confessions. Thus. the defendant's statement is classified as a highly probable false confession because the evidence led to the conclusion that his innocence was established beyonda reasonabledoubt. Although the evidence of innocence in these cases was neither conclusive nor overwhelming. Despite strong evidence supporting the conclusion that the confession is false. Any disputed confession case that fell short of this standard-no matter how questionable the confession and no matter how much direct or circumstantial evidence indicated the suspect was innocent-was excluded from this category. there were strong reasons-based on independent evidence-to believe that the confession was false. Cases are included in this category if the preponderanceof the evidenceindicated that the person who confessed was innocent.22 no physical or other significant credible evidence supported the conclusion that the defendant was guilty. We recognize that for any case that could not be classified as a proven false confession. the physical or other significant independent evidence very strongly supported the conclusion that the confession is false. the evidence overwhelmingly indicated that the defendant's confession statement was false.34. There was evidence supporting the conclusion that the confession was false. For the eighteen cases classified as highlyprobablefalse confessions. Not only was the confessor definitively excluded by dispositive evidence. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 437 proven guilty. we believe that the disputed confessions discussed in 21 22 Seeinfra text accompanying notes 89-122.

88 this article would be judged false by an overwhelming majority of neutral observers with access to the evidence we reviewed. the identification of the person as the donor of one or more type of biological material found at the crime scene. an opposite pattern of evidence (e. and the lack of an alibi all point to guilt.. biological evidence linking the suspect to the crime (fingerprint. personal knowledge of the specifics of the crime that the perpetrator would be expected to have. 25 For an in-depth discussion of the fit between the post-admission narrative and the crime scene facts. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This content downloaded from 146. If a suspect has made an "I did it" admission and given a post-admission narrative of a crime.g. supra note 3. Evaluation of the fit can reveal that a suspect possesses the sort of accurate. location of missing loot that can 23 See also Bedau & Radelet.111. There are at least three indicia of reliability that can be evaluated to reach a conclusion about the trustworthiness of a confession. exculpating biological evidence.. The identification by an eyewitness.23 B. By contrast. In addition to these traditional sources of evidence. Does the statement: (1) lead to the discovery of evidence unknown to the police? (e.34.g. and alibi evidence. at 27-56.25 The fit between the specifics of a confession and the crime facts determines whether the "I did it" admission should be judged as reliable or unreliable evidence. location of a missing weapon that can be proven to have been used in the crime. or it can demonstrate the suspect's ignorance of the crime because his answers about the crime scene evidence are grossly incorrect. or the suspect learns facts about the crime from newsmedia or information leaked. for a similar discussion of their method and classification of miscarriages ofjustice. see Ofshe & Leo. the defendant's post-admission narrative of the crime may provide helpful evidence of guilt or innocence.211 on Tue. 24 Contamination is the process whereby police suggest facts to the suspect that he did not already know. and the existence of an unimpeachable alibi) all support innocence. the fit-or lack thereof-between the contents of the narrative and the crime scene facts provides evidence of guilt or innocence. at 990-97. etc. investigators should first consider witness statements. rumored or disseminated in the community. POST-ADMISSION NARRATIVE ANALYSIS When evaluating the likelihood that a person committed a crime. DNA. assuming contamination24has been eliminated. TheDecisionto ConfessFalsely. no match with eyewitness descriptions.).438 LEO & OFSHE [Vol.supra note 4. hair.

a suspect's post-admission narrative either leads the police to missing evidence.). or which window was jimmied open with what sort of unlikely tool. where to locate the murder weapon or the loot). When the police elicit a post-admission narrative from a suspect. the statement should be seen as lacking evidence of actual knowledge-something to be expected of a false confessor who has not been contaminated by the police or due to leakage of information into the community.26 This is true. has more value since there are a large number of possibilities. etc.111. presence or absence of particular objects at the crime scene. If. However. Correctly describing how the victim was bound. then the suspect possesses actual knowledge of the crime that would reasonably be expected of the perpetrator. location of the missing weapon. This content downloaded from 146.. or reveals that the suspect knew precisely how the victim was bound and mutilated. because the suspect's knowledge of about whether a body was face up or face a "6For example. and a table lamp was found on the floor in the northeast corner of the room. or (3) include an accurate description of the mundane details of the crime scene which are not easily guessed and have not been reported publicly? (e. (2) include identification of highly unusual elements of the crime that have not been made public? (e. is demonstrably wrong about the method of killing. use of a particular device to silence the victim. If. they typically seek only information about major crime elements (e. Finally. how the victim was clothed. mutilation of a certain type. disarray of certain furniture pieces. then the statement should be judged unreliable and. a suspect's report about the mundane (but unique or improbable) details of the crime and the crime scene is of great value in establishing a suspect's guilt or innocence.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 439 be proven to have been taken from the crime scene.g.. assuming there is no contamination. on the other hand. Therefore. or is demonstrably inaccurate about the specifics of the crime scene. if a defendant's postadmission narrative correctly describes a bedroom crime scene in which the sheet-but not the mattress cover--was stripped off the bed..). etc.g. an unlikely method of killing.. etc. in part. one panel of a window drape was torn down.211 on Tue. Therefore. etc.34.). if anything. however. the answer to question down has little value since a guess will be correct half the time.). type of mutilation. the suspect's confession should be deemed reliable. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . for example. treated as evidence of innocence. he has proven his actual knowledge of the crime by accurately describing unusually mundane details of the scene.g.g. the suspect is unable to provide police with accurate information revealing evidence not already known to them (e.

206-07. was not willing to admit that he also raped her. overzealousness. at A4." Nevertheless.Memoriesof Crime. 1997. The Decision to ConfessFalsely. 26.supra note 4. the circumstances of the kidnapping. even when all the case evidence has been gathered and overwhelmingly demonstrates that the confession is false. A suspect's post-admission narrative need not demonstrate indicia of reliability in each category for it to reveal personal knowledge of the crime. Richard Allen Davis. 1114-22. who admitted to kidnapping and killing a child. 28 See Ofshe & Leo.F. POLICE-INDUCED FALSE CONFESSION Police-induced false confessions arise when a suspect's resistance to confession is broken down as a result of poor police practice.. EXAMINER. ConfessionEvidence. Sept. the child's clothing. GUDJONSSON. 1088-106. 232-33.34. PollyKlaas CaseMarkedParticipants'LivesForever. at 986-88. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .211 on Tue. It is generally accepted that one or more aspects of a crime may be so heinous that a guilty party may refuse to state them even while admitting to other major components of the crime. his personal knowledge of the crime should allow him to supply sufficiently detailed information to prove a confession's reliability by demonstrating his specific knowledge of what happened (e.A YearAfter Killer Was Sentenced. S. Trial Remain Fresh. the description of the killing scene. at 72-76. Mundane details are less likely to have been mentioned during off-tape conversations or during the preadmission phase of an unrecorded interrogation. For example.111. This content downloaded from 146.). supra note 3.440 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. Sometimes police become so certain of the suspect's guilt that they refuse to even-handedly evaluate new evidence or to consider the possibility that a suspect may be innocent. 88 mundane details is less likely to be the result of contamination by the police. even if he resists confessing to certain particularly heinous acts. Once a confession is obtained. etc. criminal misconduct and/or misdirected training. Ofshe & Leo.supra note 1. if a defendant has been properly and thoroughly debriefed.g. at 191-93. and convicting the 27 SeeMichael Dougan. investigation often ceases.28 Interrogators sometimes become so committed to closing a case that they improperly use psychological interrogation techniques to coerce or persuade a suspect into giving a statement that allows the interrogator to make an arrest.supra note 4. Kassin & Wrightsman. at 47-49. C. Social Psychology. the location of the killing ground.

SeePeople v. DuPage County sheriffs allegedly elicited incriminating statements from Alejandro Hernandez and a "dream-vision"confession from Rolando Cruz to the residential burglary. 521 N. 521 N.MONITOR. Police and prosecutors the "dream-vision"statement was tantamount to a confession. People v. 1988). Id. In 1983. People v.. 1995. 26.E. 16. A&E. blood. Cruz.2d 1230 (7th Cir.34. PresumedGuilty.No PhysicalEvidenceof EyewitnessesLinkedHim the Killing."CHI. 1994). suborn perjured testimony from snitches. in which Cruz had reported details only known by the police and the true perclaimed petrator. Editorial. See Cruz. "dream-vision" report about it at the time it they alleged This content downloaded from 146.TRIB. 1996.N. seminal fluid). Sheriffs Detective John Sam also resigned in protest because of his belief that all three defendants were innocent.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 441 defendant becomes the only goal of both investigators and prosecutors. Fitzsimmons. had not tape-recorded Cruz's supra. L.A.E. causing the County Crime Laboratory Director to resign. prosecutors failed to provide defense counsel with exculpatory evidence.2d 25 (Ill. 1988). Eventually. ChangedTestimonyGain Acquittal:Special Prosecutor. an Illinois special prosecutor recently County deputy sheriffs and three former DuPage County prosecutors for conspiracy. coerce false witness statements. 1995. PresumedGuilty. As the investigative process progresses. 1997) [hereinafter A&E.2d 18 (Ill. SeeDon Terry.Finally "TheWholeCaseJust FellApart. Yet sheriffs detectives Kurzawa and Vosburgh a not written had statement. SeeAllan Gray & Courtney Edelhart. at A27. After2 Death Sentences.supra. 34 announced (1996). In addition. DNA.A. at A18. A&E. Oct. Injusticein Illinois.643 N. 641 (Ill.. See Buckley v. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .g. only four days before the trial. shoeprints. Sheriffs recovered several forms of evidence from the scene of the crime and the victim's body (e. handprints.Presumed Guilty (A&E Television Broadcast. PresumedGuilty]. 4.211 on Tue. Yet the sheriffs had retrieved Buckley's boots from the lab and instructed the laboratory technician not to file a report. 919 F.B. TIMEs. Prosecutors charged Hernandez.82 A.g. TIMEs.E.FBI Investigation ControversialIllinois Murder Prosecution.2d at 30-31. A&E. engage in criminal conduct to cover up their procedural violations (e. perjured testimony that Cruz had made self-incriminating statements. 521 N. Buckley's attorney fortuitously discovered that the County Crime Lab had ruled out Buckley's boots--the primary and only evidence against him-as a match with the boots that had kicked in the Nicarico's door. in 1985. 4.E. 13.111. but could not link any physical evidence to these three suspects. or perjure themselves at suppression hearings or at trial). With no evidence against Cruz. prosecutors for the first time that sheriffs detectives Dennis Kurzawa and Thomas Vosburgh had elicited a "dream-vision"statement from Hernandez a year and a half earlier in May. 1983.Nov. one month prior to trial.2d 636. supra. 1995.E.Nov. at 1. some interrogators. Courts:DefendantHad BeenImprisoned to for 11 YearsAfterIllinois Girl'sMurder. J.2d at 19. 1990). Cruz. rape and murder of 10-year-oldJeanine Nicarico. perjury and obstruction of justice in the wrongful capital convictions of Rolando Cruz and Deputiesin DeathRow Case and Alejandro Hernandez. some prosecutors who are determined to convict obstruct justice by withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense.29 indicted four DuPage "9 For example. Hernandez or Buckley. For example. Ex-Prosecutors are ChargedwithFramingDefendant. Furthermore.2d at 643-44. Kolarik. see also AmericanJustice. Judge Rules Cruz Innocent. supra. the FBI conclusively demonstrated that the killer's bootprint left on the Nicarico door did not come from Buckley.E.521 N. Hernandez.Y.. CHRISTIAN SCI.Man Acquittedin 3rd Trial. kidnap. PresumedGuilty. Gera-Lind Kolarik. 643 N. See Cruz. prosecutors relied on a parade of witnesses to whom they had given reward money or reduced sentences for SeeHernandez. Cruz and Stephen Buckley (who had been implicated by Hernandez's statements) with the capital crime. Apr. at 20. At the same time. who overstepped procedural boundaries to obtain a false confession.Dec.

TRIB. supra. Dugan knew many of the crime details that had not been made public. A&E.2d at 1819.442 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. TheyDon't Care. Presumed Guilty. Nevertheless. curiously. CopsUnshakenOn CruzVision. Touhy. Cruz. The jury convicted Cruz and Hernandez of the capital crimes.A&E. at 9.521 N.TheyKnow They'vePut the WrongMen on Death Row. supra. at 934. perhaps most curiously. Cruz was convicted again at his second trial in 1990 of abducting. supra. insisting that Cruz and Hernandez were guilty.2d at 644-52. though.supra. and then killing her.E.643 N.E.TRIB. had never heard any mention of Cruz's "dream-vision"statement during that time..supra. Cruz.E. Hernandez.2d at 33-35.supra. Jeffrey Bils & Maurice Possley. supra.at 1. Radelet et al. Terry. supra note 4. and Montesano corroborated their testimony in Court.2d at 639.2d at 648. about the "dream-vision"statement as proof that it had occurred. the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the convictions against Cruz and Hernandez because the prosecution had deliberately misused both Hernandez's and Cruz's statements against one another. Kurzawa and Vosburgh also testified that former Assistant State's Attorney Thomas Knight had told them not to document the dream-vision statement because he would use it in his summary before the grand jury.643 N.LAWYER. a convicted child-rapist and murder. Nevertheless. PresumedGuilty. and eventually prosecutors dismissed charges against him. See Cruz.E. Id. Hernandez's second trial ended in a hung jury. SeeCruz..2d at 19. at A18.643 N. PresumedGuilty.. Bils.643 N. Though the Illinois Supreme Court This content downloaded from 146.E. In addition. Presumed Guilty. Dugan had also raped and killed seven-year-old Melissa Ackerman and 27-year-old Donna Schnor. supra.supra. supra. PresumedGuilty. Brian Dugan. Lieutenant James Montesano. Presumed Guilty. and.643 N. who had been assigned to defeat Cruz's death row appeal. A&E. James Touhy. See Cruz. Kenney resigned in disgust.E. When Burris pressed forward.643 N. Terry.E.2d at 23-24. 643 N. SeeCruz.Nov. taking her to a remote nature cite. A&E.E. at 1. See Cruz.supra. 28. Knight had not questioned Cruz about the "dream-vision"statement in grand jury proceedings. There was considerable evidence implicating Dugan. Terry. supra. supra. both with the same modus operendias the perpetrator of the Nicarico crime-abducting the victim. 1995.211 on Tue.2d at 64142.521 N. Second. and resentenced to die by lethal injection. A&E.2d at 26. who had worked alongside Kurzawaand Vosburgh on the Nicarico investigation before resigning in protest. confessed that he alone had raped and killed Jeanine Nicarico. and the judge sentenced both men to die by lethal injection.CHI.NicaricoCaseStill OpenAfter12 Years. supra. See Cruz. Kurzawa and Vosburgh testified that they told their boss.Oct.E. at 934. A&E. 1995. at 1.643 N. SeeRadelet et al. Touhy.E. Judge Rules CruzInnocent. Third. PresumedGuilty. PresumedGuilty.521 N. eyewitnesses placed Dugan in the Nicarico neighborhood on the day of the abduction.E. Gray & Edelhart. Touhy. See Cruz.2d at 644-52.A&E. they had not followed-up on this key piece of evidence the next day in a recorded interview with Cruz.supra.2d at 644-52. A&E. Presumed Guilty. raping and murdering Nicarico. TheDuPage Cover-Up:TheAuthoritiesKnow That Brian Dugan KilledJeanine Nicarico. The jury could not reach a decision on the charges against Buckley.CHI. May 1996. PresumedGuilty. SeeTouhy. supra. concluded that both Cruz and Hernandez were innocent and pleaded with then-Illinois State Attorney Roland Burris to dismiss charges against both of them. but at his third trial in 1991 he was convicted and sentenced to 80 years in prison.111.521 N. Touhy.E. PresumedGuilty. Based on his alleged "dream-vision"statement and the perjured testimony of numerous questionable witnesses. supra note 4. In 1988..CHI.643 N. raping and sodomizing her.521 N.2d at 647. A&E.supra. Deputy John Sam.2d at 641.2d at 642. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 88 had allegedly been given. A&E. supra. 4. See Cruz. Skeptical observers at the time insisted that prosecutors knew that Dugan had committed the crime but ignored his confession because they could not admit that they had sent two innocent men to death row. Illinois State's Attorney Mary Kenney.A&E. Shortly after Cruz's and Hernandez's capital convictions in 1985. supra. at 1. See Cruz. both police and prosecutors refused to accept the validity of Dugan's confession. See Cruz. supra. supra. Jeffrey Bils.E.34. Hernandez.E. First.

Ted Gregory & Peter Gorner. At the same time. See. However. if ever. Leo..211 on Tue. American police interrogation training manuals also to how them or instruct false confessions of social the of recognize psychology police when their tactics are leading an innocent suspect to falsely confess. Undeterred by this exculpatory evidence. Rarely are police officers instructed in how to avoid eliciting confessions.643 N.supra. A&E. at 66. Judge Ronald Mehling immediately acquitted Cruz and sharply criticized police and prosecutors for their sloppy and unethical conduct.CRIMINAL INTERROGATION MGT... Cruz had spent 10 years on death row.But ProsecutorsNot MovedbyNew Tests.e. DAVIDZULAWSKI FREDE. at 44-46. ETAL. 1995.34.supra note 30.000) that Brian Dugan was not the source of the semen found in Jeanine Nicarico's body. 23. at 67-127. Admitting that he had lied under oath in his earlier testimony. John E. SEC.DNA ExpertSays. INBAU AND OF (1993). INTERROGATION INTERVIEW ASPECTS WICKLANDER. 64 on (1992).. INBAU This content downloaded from 146. police text writers and interrogation trainers demonstrate a studied indifference to the extensive & DOUGLAS psychological literature on false confession. e. forcing prosecutors to dismiss charges against Hernandez.supra. ETAL. A&E.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 443 American police are poorly trained about the dangers of interrogation and false confession. In December 1996.111. supra.. Reid & Assocs. Cnriminal and (1991) Reid Technique: Interviewing (unpublished course booklet. 3/10. Kolarik.. The Techniques Interrogation Trial. PresumedGuilty.Jayne & Buckley. and Hernandez had spent three years on death row.e. In short. at 147. ETAL. Police Interrogation in America. even mention the subject of false confessions. DNA testing revealed that there was only a 3/100th of 1% chance (i. this time Lieutenant Montesano recanted his earlier sworn testimony that Detectives Kurzawa and Vosburgh had told him about Cruz's alleged "dreamvision" confession statement immediately after it had been obtained.g. Bils & Possley. on file with authors) [hereinafter Reid Specialized Interrogation]. or how to recognize the forms false confessions take or their distinguishing characteristics. at 1. some interrogation manual writers and trainers persist in the unfounded belief that contemporary psychological methods will not cause the innocent to confess3-a fiction so thoroughly contradicted by all of the research on po- initially affirmed Cruz's and Hernandez's convictions in 1992. supra. PRACTICAL ANDCONFESSIONS (1986). John E.E. Kurzawa and Vosburgh) and three former DuPage use County prosecutors (including Knight) with conspiring to withhold evidence and See for murder.2d at 639. SeeCONNORS note 4. how to understand what causes false confessions. Interrogation on file with authors) [hereinafter The Reid Technique]. Both Cruz and Hernandez had each spent nearly 12 years in prison. BrianJayne &Joseph Buckley. an Illinois Special Prosecutor charged four DuPage County sheriffs (including Montesano. SeeCruz. at 1. supra. prosecutors in 1995 brought Cruz to trial and sought the death penalty for a third time. 3' See. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . man innocent an frame to false of Terry. supranote 30. sufail to advise pra note 10. Reid & Assocs. Hernandez and Buckley. supra. testimony 30 Police interrogation training courses and seminars (including the introductory and advanced courses put on by the Chicago-based firm Reid & Associates) rarely. who had been awaiting his fourth trial. Montesano testified that he had been in another state the day that Kurzawaand Vosburgh had supposedly phoned him and therefore could not have spoken to them about any "dream-vision" confession statement. CruzDidn't RapeNicarico. Kolarik.0o Instead.. it vacated both convictions in 1994.CHI. As a result.supra In 1995 DNA exonerated Cruz.Sept..g. PresumedGuilty. TRIB. The Reid Technique of Specialized Interrogation Strategies (1991) (unpublished course booklet.

6 Lackof Evidence. This fiction perpetuates the commonly held belief that only torture can cause an innocent suspect to confess."Warden" 32 See. no matter how much you're yelled at. "[s]hort of physical torture. A person will not admit to something they haven't done. supra note 4. Portland police detective Kent Perry.111. at 1. who elicited proven false murder confessions from both Rick Nieskens and Christopher Cole. See also Russ Kimball & Laura Greenberg. at 7. stated that "no amount of badgering [would prompt the average. NEWSDAY. supra note 3. False Confessions. and it allows some police to rationalize accepting coerced and demonstrably unreliable confession statements as true. 88 LEO & OFSHE lice interrogation32 that it can be labeled a potentially deadly myth.g.supra note 4. supra note 4.444 [Vol. Greenberg. 50. 1991.ANCHORAGE Kimball & Laura Russ MAG. 1995. there isn't anything that's going to get you to say that you did something like that when you didn't. TRIB. Trials and Tribulations].." Robert Becker & Andrew Martin. 1993. Seealso SitkaMurderSuspectSoughtHelp. supra note 4. 3 Parloff. 1997.supra note 4.211 on Tue. at 83 [hereinafter Kimball & Revelations]. sober person to] admit to doing something that awful--or to admit to any crime.. at 85 [hereinafter Kimball & Greenberg. supra note 3.Two PortraitsEmergeof Gary Gauger.s7 Radeletet al. Debra Glaser. Greenberg. Commenting on Gary Gauger's presumed false murder confession. RevelationsFrom the Temple. 35 Tom Demoretchky. at 58. This content downloaded from 146. at B7 [hereinafter SitkaMurder].. who elicited Johnny Lee Wilson's proven false confession. No matter how long you're grilled. 1993. False Confessions. GUDJONSSON.PHOENIX 37 1993. a psychologist with the Los Angeles Police Department and supposed interrogation expert. Detectivesin Murder Transferred. Ofshe & Leo. at 23.supra note 4.PHOENIX MAG. at 101 [hereinafter Kimball & Greenberg.Oct. 24. ViciousKiller or GentleFarmer?. 18. Kassin. Highly Probable and Probable False Confessions) is reported below: TABLEAl FIRSTCATEGORY: PROVENFALSECONFESSIONS (N =34) CaseID # 1 2 3 4 Confessor Year Source(s) AnthonyAtkinson RichardBingham Leo Bruce LavaleBurt 1990 1996 1991 1985 Colwell.34.Three Confessionsto Crime.Dec. Trials and Tribulations.CHI. Apr. FALSECONFESSIONCASES The identification of the sixty cases examined and their classification into three categories of disputed confession cases (Proven. 34 SeeColwell. Social Psychology. short of torture or extreme duress." SeeSmith. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . echoes this sentiment: "There is a principle in interrogation.Nov.Russ Kimball & Laura Greenberg.3Demoretchky5 AssociatedPress" Parloffl Kimball& Greenberg. False Confessions].PHOENIX MAG.. stated that..33 D.June 13. Say. 33 For example. at D6. Police DAILY NEWS. Oct.." PERSKE. at you're not going to admit to something you haven't done. Missouri Sheriff Doug Seneker. e. at B4.

at 1." Pristine Booher4 Shellem7 Perrusquiae Connors et al. supra Granberry. 552 N.FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 RalphJacobs William Kelley Guy Lewis Steven Linscott Jose Martinez Christina Mason Robert Moore Rick Nieskins Mark Nunez Dante Parker 1995 1980 1990 1987 1991 1990 1994 1980 1993 1993 1996 1995 1991 1991 19 20 21 George Parker Laverne Pavlinac George Peterson 1980 1991 1990 Christopher Cole Bradley Cox Billy Gene Davis Pedro Delvillar 445 Smith4" Huff et al. N. at 65. at 58. 54 NEWS.34. 59 Ofshe & Leo.2d 970 (Ohio Ct. Parker. SocialPsychology. at 85. at D1. 1994. at 150-51. at 8 [hereinafter Dwyer.A. at 76. Dec.. at 292.Y. 9 RADELET 40 Warden.E. Slay Confessionis Full of Holes. 1996. See also State v."5Rossmiller & Creno5" Herbert. 129.. No. at 85. supra note 4. State.Jan. See also Cox v. Beating Charges. 64 McMahon. supra note 3. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 6. at B3. William Booher. supra note 4. 30. supra note 4. 41 Smith. D. 1996). Lawsuits Mounting for New Castle Police. NEWS. 1994. Won't Prosecute Detective Accused of Confession Coercion. at A5. 4. 42 TIMES. 48Perrusquia. Herbert." 52 David Rossmiller. False Confessions. 28. DAILY after Dwyer. 1988). App." Kimball & Greenberg' Bedau & Radelet. 45Terry Pristin. Slay Confession]. at B1. at 2. supra note 3. 4. 50 note 4. at Al.211 on Tue. 63 Siegel. at 5. 58 Parloff. 4 Booher. supra note 9. New Trialfor Man Convictedof Murder. LINSCOTr. Phillips' Feldman. Feb. State.E.111. 16. Greenberg. DAILY 56 Smith. Super.UNITEDPRESSINT'L.Feb. note 4. 1986. at D1. Ct." ETAL. at Al. Cl. INDIANAPOLIS STAR. at Al. ProbeBegun Into Confessionsof TwoAliens to StreetKillings. supra note 4. supra note 4. LA..2d 1165 (Ind. at 6 [herein55Jim Dwyer. 62 David Nathan. at 15. & Creno." Linscotts Granberry"' Rossmiller. supra note 4." Nathan'2 Siegel63 Kimball& Greenberg" McMahon. False Confessions. A-453-83T4 (N. supra note 4. supra note 4. 17. 1996. at C1. 1987. at Al. Innocent or Not. 4SPhillips.supra False & Confessions. Feb. 49 CONNORSETAL. TIMES. 60 Kimball 61 SeeBedau & Radelet. State's UnjustBlood Lust."7Parloffe Ofshe & Leo. at B4. Div. UnderRight 51 PHOENIXGAZETTE. & Greenberg.supranote 37.J. 4' Paul Feldman. HUFFET AL. supra note 4.Mar.u Dwyer"5 Smith" Kimball & Greenberg. 57 Kimball supra note 4. supra note 4.Y. This content downloaded from 146. at 226-31.Mar.Jan.supranote 37. 10. at Al. 4 Shellem. Conditions "EveryoneWill Confess. supra note 4. 671 N. 53 Rossmiller 1986. LA. State's Unjust Blood Lust]. See also Thompson v. at B1. N. 139. 1986). at 34.. supra note 4. A Questionof Guilt. Jim Dwyer.4. supra note 4.

State. 77Folks. supranote 45.supranote 4. False Confessions. supra note 4. Davis. supra note 3.7'Folks" Holland. 1976). GUILTY UNTILPROVEN 360-77 (1977). at 85. See also Reilly v. supranote 4. Seealso Thompson v. at 79 Mary Murphy. supra note 3. 15. SocialPsychology.211 on Tue. at 36. 69DONALD INNOCENT CONNERY. 71 Man Lied About 1986.E. at 1A. 87 Ofshe & Leo. He Felt Saferin Jail. 617 N. State. " 65 66 8 334-35 (1997). at 1A. BelieveMan Convictedin 7' Howard Swindle."Barthel70 UPI7' Ganey. supranote 5." Carroll.34.23. at 296. at C26. at C01. 8' MONES. JOURNEYINTODARKNESS JOHN DOUGLAS& MARKOLSHAKER. at 11. SocialPsychology. at 242 n. Donald Shoup: Al. Prosecutor.Bishop MORNING NEWS.87 Shapiro" Kimball & Greenberg.446 LEO & OFSHE 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 John Purvis PaulReggetz PeterReilly IvanReliford MelvinReynolds JamesReyos MartinSalazar DonaldShoup ChristopherSmith RubenTrujillo DavidVasquez EarlWashington JohnnyLee Wilson 1983 1979 1973 1986 1979 1982 1996 1996 1991 1987 1984 1983 1986 [Vol. 68 Paxton. Killeror Victim?. at 121-25..67 Connery. supranote 4. supra note 4. Hourihan. Priest's'81 Slayingis Not Guilty.ORLANDO SENTINEL."Hourihan" Ofshe & Leo. supra note 44. at 265. 80 Booher.78 Murphy7 BooherW 2 Feldman. 1993. supranote 4.7Swindles Ofshe & Leo. at 222-26.. Ct. Murray. RADELET 73 Carroll. 72 GANEY.3d 1285 (4th Cir. 67YANT. SANDIEGOUNIONTRIB. 88 Davis" Paxton" Yant. supra note 4. White. 1996.July 4. 81 Feldman.Aug. at 41. at 90-91. at B1. 1494-501. Sex Killing. 86 This content downloaded from 146. Shadows of a Doubt. at 201-03. supra note 4. 82 Pristin. 78 Holland. 88 Shapiro. at 1471-72. A DEATHIN CANAAN 319-28 (1976).supranote 37.2d 324 (Conn. ET AL. at B1. A.8Pristin Mones. supra note 4. at B1. See also Washington v.2d 1165 (Ind. Super.111. at 40. supra note 4. supranote 4. May 26. 355 70 JOANBARTHEL."Douglas" White. 4 F. 1993)."Radeletet al. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1996). 74 supra note 4.DALLAS 76 Ofshe & Leo.

GaugerLawyer Says.. at 392-93. at 1.SUNTIMES."BNACrim. 17.FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 447 TABLE A2 SECONDCATEGORY: HIGHLYPROBABLE FALSE CONFESSIONS (N =18) CaseIdentification Confessor Year Sources Cooper. Man. 23. 20. Richard J.. supra note 4. supra note 9. at 285.JurorsCan'tBelieveCaseEven Wentto Trial. 92 Adrienne Drell. 103Ofshe. State CourtWon'tReviewGaugerCase. CHI.J. SocialPsychology. False ConfessionLeads to MurderAcquittal. CoercedConfessions].TRIB." Franken" Ofshe & Leo. supra note 4. 107 CONNERY. See also Barry Siegel. Ofshe.POST. 99 Ray Quintanilla. OutA 93Siegel.. at 231-34..'"5 Connery.•o'McCarthy'" Ofshe.MurderConvictionto Remain Overturned. MEMORYAND LAWRENCE SATAN:A CASE OF RECOVERED WRIGHT.'"Perske'" 35 36 37 38 39 GeorgeAbney MelvinBeamon WilliamBoyd BettyBurns JackCarmen 1986 1988 1983 1989 1975 40 EdgarGarrett 1995 41 42 43 44 45 GaryGauger Joseph Giarratano PaulIngram John Knapp RichardLapointe 1993 1979 1988 1973 1989 Cooper. Man. supra note 4. June 9 Ofshe & Leo. OutragedJury]. 1977.supra note 4.111.Aug. 16. supra note 0 This content downloaded from 146. TIMES.A.Bible StudentSuesfor $10 Million.9 Drell" Siegel" Radeletet al. App. 1990.03o Wright'" Radeletet al. 1996. CULTIC 89 90 9' RADELETETAL. '00 Charles Mount. at 1-6. CHI. supra note 4. Doubt Told in MurderConviction. at Al [hereinafter Siegel. Prac. 1 (1989) [hereinafter Ofshe. O05 PARLOFF. 9' RADELET Carmen Clearedin Slaying O'Grady:Case Now Closed. supra note 9.WASH. Dec.Apr. Radelet et al. at 1.Feb. at A15. at 125. (BNA) 8 97 Exposeof BNA Crim. at 11. More than a ReasonableDoubt.Feb. at A27. 1991. 101 Arney. 18. TheirStunning ProtestSeemsto Succeedfor a While. 7. Peek at Back AlleyJustice. at 1. at Al.CHI.TRIB. CoercedConfessions:The Logic of SeeminglyIrrational Action. [hereinafter (1996) " Held. 102 Colman McCarthy.34..ConfessionCoerced. Prac. 104 InadvertentHypnosis. at 946-47. 1988.211 on Tue. 10 Crim. 7. Carmen.Man.L.supranote 4. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Jan. No.' Parloff. 1977). 6 STUD. CITIZENJ. at 1... at 174. at Al.. REMEMBERING FAMILY(1994). supra note 4. ragedJuryPuts Angerto Workin StabbingCaseCourts."Ofshe? Radeletet al. OF AN AMERICAN THE SHATTERING 4." Held.COLUMBUS 95 Harry Franken. Seealso State v. supra note 4. Prac. Trial to Focus on PoliceHypnosis.9Quintanilla."Mount'" Amey. 76 AP-429 (Ohio Ct. Exposeof False Confession]. ETAL. 1996.

"" Martin& Parsons"' Ofshe & Leo. Dist.211 on Tue. ConfessionHolds Up in Rivera Cases.111. 561 So. HabeasAttack]. "' Andrew Martin & Christi Parsons. State's Unjust Blood Lust. 1995. CHI. at A5. (BNA) 91 (1996) [hereinafter BNA Crim. at 6.AGE OF PROPAGANDA: THE EVERYDAY USE AND ABUSEOF PERSUASION174 (1991).D. 0oChase. Prac. Tankleff For A Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U. at 1A. "2 ANTHONYPRATKANIS & ELLIOTARONSON. The Battle for Richard Lapointe's Life. at 8. False Confession Suit Filed."'Dwyer'0" Thomas. I'm Guiltyif YouSay So].supranote 4. at Al. in MENTALRETARDATION 323 (1996). 1996) (No. 21. Ct.Y. 122 Pamela Manson.34. in BORCHARD. 17. "8 HabeasAttackEmphasizesCoercedConfession. ? 2254 (E. CoercedConfessions. "' Page. 2d 278 (Fla.Mar.CHI. at 234-38. "5 Ofshe & Leo."'Manson22 '0s Robert Perske. 121 Thomas. 88 Chase"o Ofshe. 28.. See also State v.C. 1993. 16 Ofshe. Rivera the WrongMan. supra note 4. JurorsAre Told. Sawyer.10 Crim. Dwyer. I'm Guilty if You Say So. '09 Richard Ofshe.TRIB. 96-CV-0507) (on file with authors).448 LEO& OFSHE 46 47 48 Jessie Miskelley BradleyPage Juan Rivera 1993 1984 1993 49 50 Tom Sawyer MartinTankleff 1986 1988 51 52 DouglasWarney Dale Zamarrippa 1996 1993 [Vol.S. App. TRIB.Nov.Mesa PoliceAccusedof CoercingMan into 120 Admitting Molestation. at 1-2. supra note 55. at 1.Man. supra note 4.. at 133. 1993. 187 [hereinafter Ofshe. "3 Karen Brandon & Andrew Martin. supra note 4. Nov. Man."' Brandon& Martin.N.."' Herbert. Prac.supra note 55. at 1.supra note 90. Corp. Man. SocialPsychology. This content downloaded from 146. at 95.supra note 3. Dwyer. ARIZ. 117 Petition of Martin H. supra note 4. 1990). REPUBLIC. Slay Confession. at 1.'LO Pratkanis &Aronson"' Page. 119Herbert."'BNACrim. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Prac."'Ofshe"' Writof Hab.

1429 (E. s50Houtz. 1990). after twice fail"23Lozano. supra note 4. 11.July 23. 1. 744 F. at B1.D.'"7 Perske'" Hart'" Houtz'? Freedlander.111.2d 1292 (8th Cir. ProsecutorsRejectMurder Confession. FINDINGS A. PROVEN FALSE CONFESSIONS There are four sub-types of proven false confessions: the suspect confessed to a crime that did not happen..UNITED PRESS INT'L.'`Patch'6 ABCNews. Feb. supra note 4. Byline.34. Supp.Jan.'1CBSNews. or the defendant was exonerated by scientific evidence. Face to Face]. DAILY NEWS.June 20. 1988. Death. the evidence objectively demonstrates that the defendant could not possibly have committed the crime. L. Witness Says Police Used "Brainwashing"to Get Confession. Texas in 1990. In Austin. 4. 135PERSKE.UNITED 127 Confessionat Gunpoint?.. at B1. at B2. Seealso Fairchild v. TheSuspectConfessedto a CrimeThatDid Not Happen Police interrogators may extract a confession to a crime that did not. at Al [hereinafter Freedlander. See also Kate Freedlander.A. 1987. OREGONIAN. at 93. Bidwell. FormerRanchForemanAcquittedof '88 Killing. supra note 10. at 1. 1992. 1997. '53 Kate Freedlander. supra note 3.CAUSEOF DEATH238-62 (1993). 990 F. 126Kim Patch. TheSubtleArt ofPersuasion. 1997. 1994. PRESS INT'L. 1989). 129 William Hart. occur. OREGONIAN. 125Steve Ginsburg. Stangel]. 1991) [hereinafter CBS News. 132 Joe Darby. Feb. at 102-03.'` Darby'3 Perske.NEWORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE.. Lockhart. Ark. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 35 CYRIL WECHT. 1 8 PERSKE. 16. affd. at 7-17.Sept. Jury ConvictsStangel in 17. 1981. supra note 3. Byline.POLICE MAG. at E06.211 on Tue. Jan. 134 Face to Face with Connie Chung (CBS News Television Broadcast.'"Wecht's" III.Mar.FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 449 TABLEA3 THIRDCATEGORY: PROBABLE FALSECONFESSIONS (N =8) CaseIdentification Confessor 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 LuisBenavidez Jane Bolding BarryFairchild TammyHarrison CharlesLawson LindaStangel CyrilWalton DelbertWard Year Sources 1992 1985 1983 1979 1991 1995 1991 1990 Lozano. in fact. 124 Carol This content downloaded from 146. 30.'"Bidwell'" Ginsburg. the true perpetrator was identified and his guilt established.

'6 Even if the underlying event did in fact occur.38 2. supra note 71. In 1987. '-9 140 Id. but prosecutors dismissed charges when they discovered that Martinez had been in a Mexican prison at the time of the arson. 355 A. Arizona police elicited a confession from Christina Mason to killing her three-month-old infant by letting another woman inject the child with heroin and cocaine to prevent it from crying. at B3. "' Granberry. California obtained a confession to arson from Jose Soto Martinez in 1993. however. Phoenix. supra note 4. at B4. 88 ing a polygraph test. at B1. 1976). and then reversal by an appellate court. TheDefendantCouldNot Have CommittedThe Crime Police may extract a confession from an individual who could not have committed the crime."14 After a jury trial. Billy Gene Davis confessed that he killed his ex-girlfriend. 143 See CONNERY. at 40.211 on Tue. police may induce a confession to a non-existent crime. police in Laguna Beach. see also Reilly v. 142 This content downloaded from 146. BARTHEL. the prosecu136 157 13 Phillips. but later discovered that Reliford was in custody when the crime was committed. State. revealed no drugs other than Tylenol in the baby's body. 328 (Conn.2d 324.'" Yet both men were in police custody (one in a county jail and the other at a California Youth Authority facility) for other crimes when the murders occurred. supra note 44. Arizona. at 20.'7" The autopsy.'40 In another example of flawed interrogation. Ct.450 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. at Al. In 1973. Rossmiller & Creno. In 1993. California police interrogators elicited false confessions from two suspects-Ruben Trujillo and Pedro Delvillar-to the same double murder and robbery. in 1986 Montana police elicited a false confession to a sexually motivated killing from Ivan Reliford. supra note 4. supra note 3.34. supra note 70. Los Angeles. she subsequently turned up alive in Tucson. and the medical examiner concluded that the likely cause of death was pneumonia or a viral infection. Super. conviction. Id. Feldman. supra note 4. Man LiedAboutSexKilling.'42 The cases in this study reveal many reasons why someone could not have committed the crime to which he confessed."' Similarly. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .111. Connecticut State Police elicited a confession from Peter Reilly to killing and mutilating his mother.

'5' The victim died between 7 p. and both spent thirteen months in jail awaiting trial-even though two other men had been convicted of Sewell's murder in 1991 and had always maintained that they acted alone. 152Id. More than 20 years after Reilly's innocence was conclusively established. at 1A. 150 151Id. at D1. Texas.15s '44Joseph O'Brien. Smith. 20 YearsAfter Trial. note 75. James Harry Reyos confessed in New Mexico that he had killed a Catholic priest a year earlier. ReillyPuts Past Behind. Id.34. 1993. Mother'sKilling Still Unresolved. supra note 4. 146 Id.'49 In 1995. in Portland. Reyos would have had to drive 200 miles to the murder site. supra note 4. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 451 tor handling the second trial discovered that the former prosecutor's files contained documents showing that Reilly arrived at the scene of the murder only minutes before the police and thus could not have committed the crime. 145Carroll. 153 Id. Eventually the state's attorney handling Reyos' appeal conceded that Reyos could not have committed the crime. see also Swindle.'47 and a speeding ticket proved that he was also in Roswell shortly after midnight. Swindle. This content downloaded from 146. supra 47Id. prosecutors admitted that Cole also could not have been involved in the crime and dropped charges against him. police extracted false confessions from Rick Nieskins and Christopher Cole to the 1991 murder of John Sewell.48 To have committed the murder. some Connecticut Police continue to insist that he killed his mother. country roads).. HARTFORD Sept. New Mexico (200 miles away) at 8 p.111.'"4 In 1982. at 1A. that evening.'" but gas receipts and an eyewitness established that Reyos was in Roswell.'50 Both men were charged with homicide. at 41. supra note 75.m.211 on Tue.But PeterReillyPuts Past Behind.m.'•' Prosecutors eventually dropped charges against Nieskins after records showed that he could not have committed the crime because he was at a homeless shelter in Seattle at the time of the killing. 23. kill the priest in no more than one minute and speed 215 miles back to where he received the speeding ticket-in four hours (averaging well over 100 miles an hour on narrow. and midnight in Odessa. at Al. COURANT. Oregon.'52 Once they acknowledged Nieskins' false confession. 48 149 Id.

supra note 3. at 23. supra note 4. SocialPsychology. Florida. at 211-14. Guy Lewis confessed to Memphis. Sometimes this occurs fortuitously when police encounter the perpetrator in connection with another crime and obtain a demonstrably reliable confession."55 In 1990. supra note 4.'61 In 1996. supra note 4. at 7. at 7. in Daytona Beach. note 4.supranote 4. at A5. SeeYANT. the true killer confessed. 163 Holland. The TruePerpetratorWasIdentifiedand His GuiltEstablished Police may elicit a confession that is proven false when the true perpetrator is identified. at Al. at A2. For a discussion of the characteristics of the mentally handicapped that make them especially vulnerable to police-induced false confession. 156 Colwell. supra note 35.'57 In 1994. 158 Perrusquia. supra note 35. supranote 55.LEO& OFSHE 452 [Vol. In 1979. at 6.'58 The prosecutor was preparing to bring charges against him when Tony Hedges and Michael Maclin were arrested and each confessed to the murder.'56 Later. Herbert. and charges against Atkinson were dismissed."59 In 1996. at 1A.88 3. New York detectives interrogated him for twenty-five hours. Demoretchky. supra 15' SeeYANT. see Ofshe & Leo.111. at 6.'" Moore was released only because police happened to arrest one of the actual killers on unrelated charges.34. after twenty-one hours of interrogation by West Virginia State Police. at 90-91.162 While Shoup was awaiting trial. and he confessed and identified his two co-perpetrators. Dwyer. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Paxton. prosecutors dismissed charges against three false confessors after routine detective work identified the true 3. police extracted a confession to capital murder and robbery from Donald Shoup. '60 161 This content downloaded from 146. at 90-91. Robert Moore confessed to the capital murder and robbery of a taxi driver after Nassau County. at 1A. State'sUnjustBloodLust.211 on Tue. Suffolk County. at A5. supranote 4. supranote 4. 16' Holland. supra note 4. Paul Reggetz confessed to murdering his wife and two children. supra note 155 159 Id Herbert.15" Reggetz spent eleven months in pretrial incarceration before one of his neighbors confessed.16" In one of the century's most dramatic and disturbing false confession cases. State'sUnjustBloodLust. 157 Demoretchky. Dwyer. Tennessee police to shooting and killing his girlfriend. supranote 55. a mentally handicapped teenager. New York police interrogated Anthony Atkinson for three-and-a-half hours before he confessed to murder and sodomy. two other men confessed to the crime.

Parloff. The rifle had been in the possession of Jonathan Doody and Alex Garcia the night of the murder. 170 Id. Had police done the ballistics test in a timely fashion.'" The police delayed doing the ballistics test on the rifle that led to Garcia's arrest because they were occupied first with coercing false confessions from Bruce. supra note 4. a mentally ill adult.'" While prosecutors were preparing capital cases against the defendants. at 5. 164 166 Id."67 Garcia not only confessed to the nine Temple murders.'" It proved to be the murder weapon.supra note 37.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 453 killers.170When Garcia admitted to the Cameron murder fourteen months later. False Confessions. Kimball & Greenberg. supra note 4. and Parker were interrogated.supranote 4.169 To make matters even worse. Both adolescents confessed to the murders. 168 169 Id. see also Kimball & Greenberg. Mark Nunez. supra note 37. False Confessions. during a sixteen hour interrogation.111. This content downloaded from 146. 165 SeeKimball & Greenberg. Peterson was awaiting trial for capital murder for the same crime. 17' Kimball & Greenberg. Id. Maricopa County Sheriffs had also extracted a confession to Cameron's murder from George Peterson. Maricopa County Sheriffs in Phoenix. Revelations.supra note 37.34. and Parker and then with the media storm and public protests against the police that followed the disputed confessions. and Garcia supplied the police with a detailed account of how he and Doody planned and carried out the killings. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .supra note 37. but also to murdering Alice Marie Cameron shortly before being arrested for the Temple murders. False Confessions. Garcia would have been arrested weeks before he killed Cameron. supra note 4. Nunez. False Confessions. during interrogations that lasted up to twentyone hours. Nunez. supra note 37.211 on Tue. 167 Id. at 58-62. McMahon. Searches led to the discovery of loot in the possession of both Doody and Garcia. Trials and Tribulations.'" In 1991. a ballistics test was carried out on a rifle that was picked up for testing the same day that Bruce. and Dante Parker to the mass murder of nine persons at a Buddhist temple. Arizona coerced false confessions from Leo Bruce. seegenerallyParloff.17 See Kimball & Greenberg. Seealso McMahon.

supra note 4. at 242. 88 4. supra note 4. 173 SeeCONNORSETAL. 7. the state eventually located an expert who. it is rare for the crime to evaporate. Hourihan.. 177 Id. Richard Bingham confessed to being the lone rapist and killer of seventeen-year-old Jessica Baggen."7 In 1996. but prosecutors dropped charges when the defense discovered that fingerprint evidence clearing Salazar had been withheld by the police and the prosecutor.177 The foreign hair found on the victim's body was not Bingham's nor was the fingerprint found on a cigarette pack at the crime scene. supra note 4. Once a suspect has confessed.'78 Bingham was also unable to describe the unusual properties of the physical scene where the body was found nor the unusual way in which the victim had been silenced. at 64-65.'74 In 1993. Virginia police elicited several confessions from Earl Washington-including one to the rape and murder of Rebecca Williams. supra note 4. 18oId. for the true perpe"72SeeOfshe & Leo. In 1996. SocialPsychology. it is difficult to establish conclusively that a defendant's confession is false even when the evidence of innocence is compelling.111.454 LEO & OFSHE [Vol.supra note 36. Chicago police reshaped a dream by Steven Linscott into a murder confession. The state then re-indicted Salazar. Oct. LINscoTr. Washington confessed to three other rapes that police subsequently determined he could not have committed. Folks. Florida elicited a confession to capital murder from Martin Salazar. at 210. said that while Salazar was not a match. This content downloaded from 146. in Sitka.34.'"6 DNA testing excluded Bingham as the source of the semen found in the victim. DNA evidence established that Washington could not have been responsible for any of these crimes. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .s18 Notwithstanding the numerous examples of proven false confessions reported in this article. supra note 3. 97-11428CFA02). at B1. TheDefendantWasExoneratedBy ScientificEvidence Police may elicit a confession that is conclusively proven false by scientific evidence. SeeGrand Jury Indictment of Martin Salazar for First Degree (Palm Beach County Ct. but DNA testing established his innocence many years later. SeeWhite. After Salazar's case was dismissed. he could not be excluded. at 121-25. 174 During this interrogation. 175 Id. 176 Sitka Murder. police in West Palm Beach. Alaska.211 on Tue. contrary to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.' During an interrogation in 1980. 178 Id 179 Id. at 1491-501.supra note 4. 1997) (No.•' In 1983.."7 Bingham was acquitted at trial.

abundant evidence supported the conclusion that he was innocent. supra a hallow grave by search dogs . supra note 4.'82 Despite Page's confession. nose broken.. note 4. supra note 181. The standard for inclusion into the proven false category-established innocence-is a formidable barrier. assumed to be a rock . Oakland. see also MELANIE GIRL247 (1990) ("[t]here was. for police or prosecutors to discover that the defendant could not have committed the crime.B.111.183 On the other hand.18' His vague. apart from the confession no evidence at all").. The StrangeConfessionof BradleyPage: Bibi Lee'sLoverImagineda MONTHLY 21. at 4. 1984) (on file with authors) [hereinafter Page. California police persuaded Bradley Page that he killed his girlfriend.I.. Bibi Lee. only a small number of these cases are reported here. Interrogation Transcript. 182 Id '83 SeeAlix Christie. causing considerable bleeding.211 on Tue. three separate blows to the head with some heavy sharp-edged instrument.. 1. Interrogation Transcript]. Cal.184 Page's post-admission narrative did not fit the known crime facts. Seealso THERNSTOM. and speculative confession occurred during a sixteen hour interrogation that was only partially recorded. that connected Brad page to the Crime"). no evidence (physical or otherwise) corroborated his involvement in the crime. Page stated that Lee died after he slapped her with the back of his hand. after all. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 184 SeegenerallyPage. at 3 (tape #2). B. '"86Id. BradleyPage In 1984. 10. eye orbit shattered. 181 This content downloaded from 146.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 455 trator to be apprehended." It was not until days after the interrogation that the coroner determined that Lee had three large breaks at the base of the skull.185causing her to fall and become unconscious as a trickle of blood came from her nose. or for scientific evidence to exonerate him. HIGHLYPROBABLE FALSE CONFESSIONS While our research has unearthed numerous examples of highly probable false confessions. at 179 ("Found in '87 Page. Oakland. nor Interrogation Transcript of Bradley Page. at 12.34. it became obvious that his 'confession' was all THEDEAD THERNSTROM. '85Page.. Police Dep't (Dec. 46 (1986) ("[w]hen the laboraCrimeBut Did He CommitIt?."18 At the time of Page's interrogation the police did not know the extent of Lee's skull fractures. confused. 27 BERKELEY tory analyses came back from the F.supra note 183. [was a] skull cracked open").

08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . If the confession itself is the result of the interrogator's influence over the suspect. at 12. note 183. at 46. supra note 4. See also THERNSTROM.'9' no signs of having been washed. supranote 181. began the day after her disappearance. supra note 183. then it is likely that reports of bizarre crime elements that did not happen are also traceable to influence from the interrogator. See also THERNSTROM. 88 apparently did Page.supra note 183. at trial testified that the kind of head injury that the victim sus'97 The pathologist tained would have produced a fair amount of blood. beginning the day after her disappearance.'" no blood stains from Lee's massive head wounds. 14-15. supranote 181. supranote 183. 1994) [hereinafter CBS News. 199 Page. at 237. the blanket contained no evidence of sexual activity. at 383.'89in fact. at 12. The massive hunt for the body of the victim.456 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. Christie. 192 Id. Bibi Lee. supra note 4. at 7-8 (tape #2). One soft indicator of a false confession is that a suspect who has no known or discoverable history of aberrant sexual obsessions includes in his confession a report of a bizarre sexual act (such as necrophilia as in the Page confession. 383. SeeTHERNSTROM. Police interrogators at times seem to be obsessed with weird sex. biting off the victim's nipple as in the Abney confession or anal rape as in the Sawyer case) which turns out not even to be a fact of the crime.'" In '8 Page. 191Page. at 12. '" See Page.'95 Page also stated that he dragged Lee's body more than 100 yards before burying it. none of which matched Bibi Lee's)." Page guessed that he used a spare hubcap that was in his vehicle in an attempt to bury Lee. see also THERNSTROM. Christie. at 81.34. at 197. 195Page. hairs were found on the blanket. 194 Page. at 237 (eight '93 SeePage. Interrogation Transcript. supra note 4. at 14-15. at 12. 1984. supra note 4. at 46. spent hundreds of hours combing the area where Lee's body was eventually found. 189 Id. supranote 181. at 237. supra note 183. police ignored eyewitness evidence pointing to another suspect. supra '96 Page.'94but the fibers and soil from the hubcap did not match either the fibers of Lee's clothing or the soil where her body was found. Jan.111. See THERNSTROM. supra note 183. This content downloaded from 146. supra note 183. Interrogation Transcript. Confession]. seealso Christie. 190Page. note 183. at 8 (tape #2).211 on Tue. Interrogation Transcript.'96 Had this happened there would have been a trail of blood'97that surely would have been found by the various search and rescue and dog tracking teams that.supra note 183. It appeared that the blanket had not even been unfolded almost five years. at 12.""8Page also stated that he made love to the dead body on a blanket taken from his vehicle."92and the hairs found on the blanket were not Lee's. supra note 4. 13.198 In addition to the numerous discrepancies between Page's post-admission narrative and the facts of the crime. see also THERNSTROM. at 7 (tape #2). November 5. supra note 4. supra see also Eye To Eye with Connie Chung: Confession(CBS News Television Broadcast.

Ofshe. Killer Tied toE. presuming that Staschak had been sexually assaulted. 1994. 561 So. 1995. The jury in the second trial found Page guilty of voluntary manslaughter after six days of deliberations.supra note 199. at 237. Clearwater. Fla. Seealso Don Martinez. See Page.supranote 4 at 234-38. 204 Interrogation Transcript of Tom Sawyer. EXAMINER. Bay Slaying Authoritiesalso Investigation Convict'sConnectionto 3 Killingsfrom a DecadeAgo. Ct. SocialPsychology." 2. Clearwater.supra note 90. supra note 200. Police Dep't (Nov.Jan. Florida police coerced a confession from Tom Sawyer to the rape and murder of Janet Staschak after sixteen hours of interrogation that included numerous threats. See Page Free After Doing 2 1/2 Yearsfor 1984 Killing of His Girlfriend. Feb.211 on Tue.25 and his post-admission narrative fit poorly with the facts of the case. at 20-21. Sawyer. at 231. 2d 278 (Fla. Ofshe & Leo. 01 202 The jury in the first trial acquitted Page of second degree murder but deadlocked 8-4 on the charge of voluntary manslaughter. Sawyer was unable to corroborate the confession by supplying information about the victim's missing clothing. the interrogators led Sawyer to admit to both vaginal and anal rape during the creation of the post-admission narrative of the crime. S.34.207but the medical examiner reported no evidence of sexual assault. Dist. Confession. PRATKANIS ARONSON. at A5. and he & was sentenced to six years in prison. senM03Page was released after serving two years and eight months of his six year tence.208Despite strenuous efforts by the interrogators. SocialPsychology. TomSawyer In 1986. 1986) (No. 207 Interrogation Transcript of Tom Sawyer.2' For example. Coerced Confessions. at 176-77.201 Having convicted Page after two jury trials.'2 Ihde was in prison in Washington State for two similar murders when he bragged that he killed three San Francisco Area women-one of whom was non-white (Lee was Asian American).supranote 90. 11. 205 Ofshe. This content downloaded from 146. 1990).F. miss- 2 CBS News.supra note 112.S.204There was no evidence linking Sawyer to the crime. at Al. but did charge him with a similar murder that happened within weeks of Lee's death.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 457 1994 CBS News identified Michael Ihde-whose appearance was consistent with the reported eyewitness evidence and whose DNA and pattern of killing linked him to other local area murders-as Lee's murderer.111. App. at 12. 206 Ofshe & Leo. Martinez. EXAMINER. at Al. at 6-14. supranote 4. See also State v. 11. 2 Ofshe & Leo. 86-28504) (on file with authors). supra note 4.202Alameda Country prosecutors declined to charge Ihde with Lee's murder.F.supranote 4. at 237. 6-7. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . supranote 204. CoercedConfessions. SocialPsychology.

34. New York police obtained a confession from Martin Tankleff. since no evidence of his guilt existed.29 After the trial judge suppressed Sawyer's confession. at 94.212 Suffolk County. or the tape used to bind her. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .561 So. and 6:10 a. 219 Id. at 94-95. at 238. SocialPsychology. at 94. 88 ing keys.210 the state dismissed the charges. SeeSawyer. at 94.m. Tankleff's narrative matched (indeed it was) the flawed theory of the crime that police detectives held at the time of Tankleff's interrogation. at 95.214 Instead.111. Id. 210 217 Id. but would have been washed away if he showered to remove the substantial bloodstains that likely marked the killer. hair and fibers. Man. Prac. 211 Ofshe & Leo. 218 220 Id.supranote 4. Martin Tankleff After five-and-one-half hours of accusatory interrogation in 1988. 212 BNA Crim.211 on Tue.216Medical testimony established that the head injuries to Martin's father were caused by a hammer. but no blood residue or hairs from his parents were found in his shower. but his mother's time 09 Id..215 Tankleff confessed to killing his parents with a dumbbell and a watermelon knife. HabeasAttack. at 92.218Tankleff confessed that he took a shower to wash away the substantial bloodstains the killings would have left on the perpetrator. 216 Id.458 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. to brutally stabbing and murdering his parents.. and his post-admission narrative did not match the facts of the case. but Tankleff's body was unscratched and the absence of any bruises suggested that he had not been in a life or death struggle with anyone. 21 Id. at 95.220 Tankleff confessed to assaulting his parents between 5:35 a. 215 Id. 213Id.supranote 118.2" No evidence linked Tankleff to the crime. then seventeen-years-old.219Tankleff had one bloodstain on his shoulder that could have been acquired when he discovered the bodies.m. yet both items tested negative for blood traces.211 3. This content downloaded from 146.21' Tankleff confessed to beating his mother with a dumbbell and then fighting with her. 2d at 297. which would have been consistent with the defensive wounds on her arms.

226 4. stabbing. Senkowski. he were guilty) and was merely a regurgitation of the factually erroneous theory the detectives admitted they had initially held. Manchester. the husband of the victim's granddaughter.in CONNERY. supra note 3. 229 SeeTom Condon. signed three contradictory confessions to raping. Lapointe. two years after the murder of Bernice Martin. 1998). This content downloaded from 146. Aug. a jury convicted Tankleff of two counts of second degree murder. Justice Unserved?: Connecticutis About to Witnessthe Appeal of AnotherMurder ConvictionBased on a QuestionableConfession.211 on Tue.in BORCHARD.22 Tankleff confessed that after showering he removed his father from the chair and did not shower again. July 3. TankleffAppeal:MurderTrial Unfair.221 Tankleff confessed to killing his mother and then walking through the house before attacking his father.NEWSDAY. but none of his mother's blood was found along this pathway. 225 Carolyn Colwell.224 His confession was not corroborated by the physical evidence that should have linked him to the crime (if.111. Tankleff continues to serve his sentence of fifty years to life at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. NEWSDAY.225Tankleffs judge sentenced him to prison for fifty years to life. 224 d. Tankleffs Family:Jury GoofedRelatives Say "PokerFace"Hurt Teen in MurderTrial. 1992. 16. 226 Carolyn Colwell. in fact. Police Dep't (July 4. 222 d 223 Id. Convicted in June of 1990.34. Manchester. Nevertheless. New York. 228 Confession Statements of Richard Lapointe. at 21. a jury convicted 221 Id. at 28 ("The confession has so many inconsistencies that it is almost as if Lapointe confessed to the wrong crime"). but Tankleff's confession made no reference to gloves. Seealso Donald S. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1989) (in possession of authors).FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 459 of death was established to be much earlier. SeeTankleff v.227 During an unrecorded nine and one-half hour interrogation. at 33.222The killer used gloves. 12. RichardLapointe In 1989.supra note 3. ReasonableDoubt. Connecticut Police interrogated Richard Lapointe. His conviction is under appeal. In fact.supra note 3.2' In 1992. 1998 WL 29961 (2d Cir. 97-2116. yet Tankleffs clothes were not bloodstained. and strangling the victim. each of Lapointe's three confessions was inconsistent with the others and contradicted the facts of the crime. Nos. 227 See CONNERY. a mentally handicapped adult. at 6. Conn. Connery. at 1-2. 97-2063.Jan. 1990.228 No physical evidence either linked Lapointe to the crime or corroborated any of his incriminating statements.

232 In that brief period Lapointe would have had to have walked ten minutes to Bernice Martin's apartment. and sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus sixty years. Her account provided Lapointe with an alibi for all but thirty to forty-five minutes of the day. supra note 228.J. which weighed 160 pounds.'239 However. a blunt object had been pushed against the right side of her neck). set fire to the apartment and walk back to his residence. 19. rape her. supranote 229.23' but the medical examiner reported that the victim died from strangulation by compression (i. at 4-5. Jan.'"2 Yet.211 on Tue. at 29. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .2" Lapointe remains in prison today with little hope of ever being released.460 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. medical testimony established that she was not killed while on the couch. State of Conn. DoesPoliceLying Compromise Society'sSearchforJustice. This content downloaded from 146. Alex Wood. 9.. 1987) (on file with authors). 236 Condon. 232 Condon.e. 88 Lapointe of capital felony murder and eight related charges. Sept.2m Lapointe admitted to an erroneous police theory of the victim's death. at 35. 235Tom Condon. Medical Examiner. suf- Connery. supranote 229.HARTFORD-CURRANT. at 25. on the couch.. manual strangulation with both hands.111.'28 Lapointe confessed to moving the victim's body (the police theory of the crime at the time of the interrogation).234 Lapointe confessed to killing the victim at the location in her apartment where the police believed she had been stabbed. have coffee with her. LapointeCasePinpointsNeedfor Reforms. when he returned after his walk Lapointe did not appear sweaty or disheveled. 9. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (Mar. An analysis of the fit between Lapointe's post-admission narrative and the facts of the crime reveals that it would have been virtually impossible for Lapointe to have committed the crime in the time available to him. bind her.235 However.34. 233 Id. 230 231 234 Id. at A3. stab her. Lapointe. 237 Id 239 Autopsy Report of Bernice Martin by Arkady Katsnelson. 1995. In an interview with his wife immediately following Lapointe's arrest (an interview police chose to record). INQUIRER. Lapointe recounted her husband's activities on the day of her grandmother's death.23' Mrs. 1995.

2. but they were too large to fit Lapointe's tiny hands. a mentally handicapped seventeen-year-old.m. Arkansas police coerced a confession from Jessie Lloyd Misskelley. Relatives.247 Misskelley's statement to police was inconsistent with the facts of the case.1 Perske. 1996). at 101-02. In 1993 West Memphis.244 they insisted that this man was not Lapointe. Jr. 1 ofJessie Misskelley. 242 Id 60 Minutes-RichardLapointe:Did He Do It? (CBS News Television Broadcast. Ark. supranote 109. 2 ofJessie Misskelley. SeeInterrogation Transcript Nos.. at 323. portion of Misskelley's interrogation revealed that the interrogator manipulated Misskelley to place the killings at the correct time by raising the issue eight times and producing a series of shifts in Misskelley's response. in fact.COM. West Memphis..211 on Tue. 245Id Ofshe. supranote 247. 93-05-0666) (on file with authors). in CONNERY. The briefly recorded Misskelleyin Slayings of Boys. 1 & 2 ofJessie Misskelley. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1 & 2 ofJessie Misskelley.242The killer's gloves were left behind at the crime scene. 28 Interrogation Transcript No. the victim was raped with a blunt instrument.243 Eyewitnesses saw a large man who did not match Lapointe's description running away from the crime scene.34. supranote 247. June 30. at 136-51. the victims were all in school.241 Lapointe confessed to the sexual assault theory of the crime held by the police-rape with his penis. at 17. and demonstrated that he lacked personal knowledge of the crime. 246 247 This content downloaded from 146. see also Stephen Greenspan. Lapointe is missing connective tissue between the hemispheres in the cerebella area. 249 SeeBartholomew Sullivan & Marc Perrusquia. at Al. See Perske. JessieMisskelley.245 5. at 4.111. 250 Interrogation Transcript No.Jr.246He confessed to participating as an accessory in the brutal murder of three eight-year-old boys. I'm Guiltyif YouSay So. In fact. supra note 108. LawyersDisputeAccountBy June 8.FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 461 fers from Dandy-Walker Syndrome240 and has shunts surgically inserted in his head that render him incapable of lifting more than fifty pounds. As a result. 1993.249 Misskelley confessed that a brown rope had been used to bind the boys250 240 Dandy Walker Syndrome is a congenital brain malformation in which cysts form on the brain from a buildup of fluid on the skull. 243 244 Id.APPEAL. They did not disappear until after approximately 5:30 p. Police Dep't (June 3. was not supported by any evidence. supra note 3. at 323. 1993) (No. supra note 247. supra note 108. Misskelley confessed that he witnessed the murders taking place around noon248 when. Jr. Thereis More to Intelligencethan IQ. Interrogation Transcript Nos.

7. Illinois. Friends Challengedon MisskelleyAlibi.APPEAL. at B1. 1. Id. 14. App. 253 Lynda Natalki. 255 Brief for the Appellant at 20. at 30-43.259Police could not find any of Gauger's blood on knives2? or faucets. "Rowdy Feb.258 not a single piece of evidence linked Gauger to the crime..LEO & OFSHE 462 [Vol. sheriffs detectives extracted from Gary Gauger a hypothetical. in fact.TRIB. 88 when. Not at Death Site. ConfessionCoerced. Feb. 18 Is Sentencedto Life in Prisonfor theBrutal Slayings. COM.255 According to police.A. 2-94-1199). at A6. This content downloaded from 146. 1994. Oct 18. DropoutFound Guiltyin Deathsof 3 Boys. Jan. 2.254 6. intense and highly deceptive interrogation in McHenry County. 1994.262 Gauger gave the police the wrong number of slash wounds to his 25' Glen Chase. 5. Misskelley was at a wrestling competition in a town forty miles away from the crime scene.25' Even though police confiscated more than 160 items from the house where the double murders occurred.L. TIMES.34. at 17. Toss Out Statementon Killing of 3 Boys. at 23.25' Numerous alibi witnesses testified that at the time the three children disappeared and for the next five hours (during which the murders probably occurred). at 24.Feb. after eighteen hours of confrontational. at 1.256However. 252 See Marc Perrusquia.2 even though he allegedly washed his hands after the double murder. an Arkansas jury convicted Misskelley of one count of first degree murder and two counts of second degree murder. ARK. People v.DEMOCRAT-GAZE'TE.GaugerLawyer CHI. Ct. 1996. at Al. 262 Id. Rebel"Says MisskelleyWas on Mat. 259 Id. Gauger (Ill. at 30-43 260 Id. LawyerAsks Judge.Feb. 1994. Doubt Told in MurderConviction. 1994) (No. his alleged confession was inconsistent with the facts of the crime.111. shoelaces of various colors had been used. 258 Id. 254 Id. Gauger said that he approached his parents from behind and slit their throats. Says.253 He is currently serving a life sentence.Crime:Jessie LloydMisskelley Jr. Glen Chase.. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . GaryGauger In 1993. Id.252 Despite the complete lack of any evidence of Misskelley's participation in the crime and despite his grossly incorrect confession. DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE. unsigned confession to the brutal murder of both his parents. ARK. 256 257 261 Charles Mount.Two OtherDefendantsAwait Trial in Arkansas.211 on Tue. 1994. at A21.

CHI.34. Son Convictedof MurdersSeesFreedomat CellDoor. 273 SeeRay Quintanilla & Meg Murphy. EdgarGarrett In 1995. an Illinois Appeals Court reversed his conviction and released him from prison because police had improperly obtained his confession. McHenry CountyJudge TRIB.273 7. and his confession did not make any mention of the additional bludgeon wounds that his father suffered. at 1. WisconsinCrimeLed to BikerSuspects.274who had mysteriously 263 Id.24 If they had been killed as Gauger described.22 Since then. there was little or no blood on the walls and shelves surrounding them. 5. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . see also Carolyn Starks.. GaugerSlayingsLinked to Robberyby the Outlaws. 1997. FreesMan He Had Sentencedto Die. 1995) (No.. 1997.21 Moreover..267 An autopsy revealed that both victims had been beaten over the head. 1996. 13. at 1. police in Goshen. at 1.TRIB. 265 SeeBecker & Martin. Michelle. 20C01-9502-CF-003) (on file with authors). 27.268 A jury convicted Gauger of first degree murder. federal prosecutors have charged two men belonging to a Detroit-based motorcycle gang with the murders of Gauger's parents. medical testimony established that the victims' throats were slit while they were on the ground. at 1. Social 269 This content downloaded from 146.FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 463 mother's throat. Police Dep't (Jan. 72 Ray Quintanilla.CHI.TRIB..Oct.263 Gauger confessed to the police theory of the crime-slashing his parents' throats from behind while they were standing.2" Sixteen months later. supra note 33. See also Ofshe & Leo. 66 Id. Goshen. at 1. 1996. TRIB. Ind. not while they were standing. May 27. 267 Id. Ray Quintanilla.270 but subsequently re-sentenced Gauger to life imprisonment without eligibility of parole.111..CHI. 1996. 268 Id. and that Gauger's father had been stabbed in the back-facts not contained in the confession.June 11. blood would have spurted from both parents' throats across the room and onto the walls. 274 Interrogation Transcript of Edgar Garrett. Gauger(No. 270 Ray Quintanilla.PoliceSaw SimilaritiesBetween1995 Burglaryand RichmondKillings. 17 Indictedin Trail of Violenceby Biker Gang.June 12.TRIB. High Courtis Askedto UpholdMurderConviction.269 The trial judge initially sentenced him to death. Indiana persuaded Edgar Garrett that he killed his daughter. 2-94-1199). 26Appellant's Brief at 17.CHI. at 1.Mar. 271 Id.2' Though police found the victims lying in pools of blood.211 on Tue. CHI.

Man. SocialPsychology. and no evidence was ever uncovered that he had access to a car that day.276 Garrett gave an increasingly detailed confession describing how he murdered his daughter. This content downloaded from 146. at 234 281 Id. Michelle Garrett's body had been unloaded from a vehicle and dragged to the river.277whose body had not yet been found.supra note 4. but instead saw tire tracks entering the park..111. 277 Ofshe & Leo. Prac. when her body was recovered."79and his post-admission narrative contradicted all the major facts in the case. at 1112. 280 Ofshe & Leo. bloody drag marks leading from the tire tracks to the river's edge and a single set of footprints going to and returning from the river. 276 Interrogation Transcript of Edgar Garrett. the police officer who arrived first at the crime scene did not see footprints in the snow-covered field at the entry to the park. Prac. at 11-12.464 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. not surprisingly.supra note 97. Man. 279 Ofshe & Leo. Social Psychology. and.'"' Obviously.supra note 4. BNA Crim. at 234. SocialPsychology. that the police and Garrett learned that Michelle had been stabbed thirty-four times. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Exposeof False Confession. 284 Id.278 No independent evidence linked Garrett to the crime or corroborated his confession.. but Edgar Garrett did not own a car.supra note 97. supranote 4. Garrett's confession expressed the theory the police held at the time of the interrogation-that Michelle was clubbed to death. Prac. Exposeof False Confession. at 231-34.'"' However.283 Michelle's coat was recovered from the river separately from her body. supranote 4. See also BNA Crim. Man. at 234.'"8 Michelle's head showed no evidence of blunt force trauma. 278 Id. bludgeoning her with an axe handle at a river's edge and dumping her body in the river. 275 Ofshe & Leo.34."'7 During fourteen hours of interrogation. at 8. 285 Id.'"8 It was not until weeks later. Seealso BNA Crim.211 on Tue. supra note 97. at 231. the axe handle Garrett supposedly used to kill her carried no traces of Psychology..2so Garrett confessed to walking into a park with his daughter through newfallen snow. supranote 274. 84 suggesting Michelle had been killed indoors and transported to the river-bank. SocialPsychology. supranote 4. 282 Id. 286 Id. 283 Id. 88 disappeared. Exposeof False Confession.

Slay Confession.297 Warney confessed that he cut his finger during a struggle with Beason and wiped his hand in the bathroom. State'sUnjustBloodLust. Slay Confession. 289 Dwyer. Dwyer. 29 Dwyer. at 6. at 8. 288 290 Id. at 8. Attorney.111. Slay Confession. State'sUnjustBloodLust. Capital State Defender's Office (Apr. supra note 4. at 6. supra note 55. at 6. Id. Douglas Warney In 1996. 28 8. supported a capital charge)."" There was no physical evidence linking Warney to the brutal murder.289 Warney.supra note 55. New York police elicited a confession from Douglas Warney to the brutal stabbing and murder of sixty-three-year-old William Beason. Slay Confession. Slay Confession. The murder of Michelle Garrett remains unsolved largely because Goshen Indiana police would first have to admit that they caused an innocent man to confess to his daughter's murder. " Dwyer. at 8. but Beason was found stabbed in his bedroom. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . supranote 55."' The District Attorney initially charged Warney with capital murder. 3w Dwyer.s'? The killer left a trail of blood at the scene.211 on Tue. at A5.Y. 293 Telephone Interview with William Easton.supra note 55. Seegenerallyid.supra note 55.287 At trial."8 A medical examination shortly after Warney's arrest revealed no evidence of a cut. 291 29 295Id 2 Dwyer. virtually all of the physical evidence contradicted Warney's confession."2 confessed to stabbing Beason fifteen or more times. supra note 4. 21. N. Rochester. 2* Herbert. at 8. 1997). 30' Dwyer. the jury acquitted Garrett of capital murder. but none of the blood matched Warney's blood type.34. supranote 55. supranote 55. if true.supra note 55. Dwyer.s"' Warney confessed that he threw his bloody 287 Id."5 Warney confessed that he stabbed Beason in the kitchen." There was no blood in the kitchen. a mentally handicapped man who was suffering from AIDS-related dementia at the time of his interrogation. at 8. 297 This content downloaded from 146."4 Instead.2 and laboratory tests showed that the blood in the bathroom did not come from Warney or Beason. State'sUnjustBloodLust.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 465 her hair or blood."' but reduced the charge to second degree murder after the New York media published several high profile stories criticizing his charging decision (even though the confession. at A5. Herbert.

STATENEWSSERVICE. Hinton. 312 313 Interview with Robert C. o'0Id. BarryLeeFairchild In 1983. at 102. supranote 308.31 a mentally handicapped Af30o2Id. PERSKE.310 After the trial judge ruled Harrison's confession inadmissible. Arkansas sheriffs extracted a confession from Barry Lee Fairchild.312 2. but the garbage contained no bloody clothing. it's what I think.102 Warney confessed that he drove his brother's brown Chevy to the murder. 308 Telephone Interview with Robert C. supranote 129. 306 Hart. Attorney (Apr.303Nevertheless.111. at 12-13.•9 repudiating her postadmission narrative while making it. TammyLynn Harrison In 1979. Hinton. 303 Id.Feb. Easton. the prosecutor dismissed all charges for lack of evidence. 30oInterview with William 305 S07 Id. a jury convicted Warney of second degree murder..•? Moore coerced Harrison's confession by repeatedly telling her that she would die in the electric chair if she did not confess. supra note 129. I don't even know if that's right. Jr. at 13 ("As she confesses. 28.104 and the judge sentenced Warney to twenty-fiveyears to life.' and 'I don't remember it. at 12-13."' Shortly after the confession was suppressed.supra note 3. the Duncanville Police Department fired Lieutenant Moore. Man Sentencedfor Killing Lover. 'I am [telling it]. This content downloaded from 146. 1997). PROBABLEFALSECONFESSIONS 1. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . s09 Hart. but I'm not believing it. at 12-13. Jr. Pulaski County.211 on Tue. 1997. supra note 129.308and she steadfastly maintained her innocence. Tammy Lynn Harrison. a seventeen-year-old. Texas police Lieutenant Robert Moore. supranote 293. 15.305 C. following several days of intensive interrogation by Duncanville. but his brother had not owned a Chevy for six years and did not own a car at the time of the killing.. 88 clothes into a garbage can outside his apartment. 311 Id. the girl interjects. See also Hart.30' There was no physical or other evidence connecting Harrison to the crime. signed a confession to stabbing her mother to death.466 LEO & OFSHE [Vol.'").34. really.

"Dear from Letter Congressmen John Conyers. at B7.31' There was no independent evidence connecting Fairchild to the crime. Confessionat Gunpoint?. 317 See Confessionat Gunpoint?. SeeNorris.N.3'" in fact. Urgent!!Stop Colleague" TheExecutionof an InnocentMan (Sept.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 467 rican-American.supra note 10. 8.3d 799. 102-03. not true).314to participating as an accessory in the abduction. Keyes at 3 (Feb.DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE. Michael Johnson. at B9. Supp. The FairchildIssues Won'tDie. 29.supranote 10.34. Supp.317 Fairchild maintained his innocence and insisted that he confessed only because Sheriff Tommy Robinson and Deputy Sheriff Larry Dill physically beat.supra note 10. in part.318 Fairchild's videotaped confession statement shows him looking away from the camera and responding to the prompting of others in the room. 803 (8th Cir. SeeFairchild v. Fairchild told officers where he had thrown his gloves away. In addition. 1989) (on file with authors) ("On the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised. blood. Despite the absence of the physical evidence that should have linked Fairchild to the crime if he were guilty. and despite the highly questionable circumstances under which they were extracted. assaulted. Jr. 1995. 1995. ARK. For example. These scores place him within the lowest 1% of the population. 28. 672. In the end. they too had been detained for questioning about the Mason murder and were tortured.211 on Tue.111. 1429. See. at B12. Fairchild's post-admission narrative contained several glaring errors of fact.g. 21.21 F. the courts repeatedly declared that Fairchild's confession was voluntary and reliable. Lockhart.DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE. See. 316 Shortly after Fairchild's confession. the state conceded that without the confession the case against Fairchild simply would have fallen apart. 869 F. and threatened him. In fact.supra note 10. Fairchild also identified Harold Green as his accomplice. More Sept. like Fairchild. & Don Edwards. reported that he heard sheriffs in the next room torture Fairchild 31' Forensic Evaluation of Professor Ruth Luckasson and Denis W. despite the factual inaccuracies in Fairchild's confession statements. police retrieved a watch similar to the one owned by the victim from Fairchild's sister.3? One of these men. This content downloaded from 146. 1993) ("Mr. rape and murder of Majorie Mason. Seealso Executionof RetardedMan is Fought.Y. 21 F. Norris.21 F. hair and semen failed to positively link Fairchild to the crime. many people have doubted the validity of Fairchild's confession. John Brummet. 1993) (proclaiming Fairchild's innocence) supra note 3. 315 Confessionat Gunpoint?.3d at 813.supra note 10."). 1994). QuestionsThan Facts. rev'd. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1989). Fairchild demonstrated a Full Scale IQ of 61. 318 Confessionat Gunpoint?. 319 Id..g. Confessionat Gunpoint?. Fairchild has mental retardation. 1995. but they were unable to find them there. but Green was in Colorado when the crimes took place. Fairchild's confessions were given voluntarily and the truth of the essential facts stated in those confessions cannot be doubted by any fair and objective person"). ARK..D. See Fairchild v. Aug. 1521 (E.3d 799 (8th Cir.supra note 10. While the state offered this as corroboration of Fairchild's confession (which even the state acknowledged was. PERSKE. Norris. 744 F. Aug. Fairchild testified at trial that he bought the watch from someone at a pool hall and sold it to his sister.D. TIMES. e. Fairchild v. Ark. 31. Ark. 690 (E. 32 Confessionat Gunpoint?. e. at (on file with authors).'19 In 1990-seven years after Fairchild's conviction on capital murder charges-thirteen African-American men publicly disclosed that. 1994).

"329 4.Y.June 23. Delbert Ward has an IQ of 69. by putting his hand over William's nose and mouth. at 238-62.325 No credible evidence linked Bolding to the crimes. This content downloaded from 146. Ward eventually signed a confession admitting that he had murdered his brother. after twenty-three hours of continuous interrogation. see also WECHT. at 88-94. at Al.N. "' Two former Pulaski County Sheriff Deputies. 328 Ginsburg."28 He wrote that.supranote 135. supra note 126.POST. EarlierTraumas. s25Id.322Nevertheless. "the state at most has placed the defendant at the scene. Virginia police extracted a confession from nurse Jane Bolding to injecting two patients with fatal doses of potassium. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 323 ArkansasExecutesa RetardedMan for Murder. Id. DelbertWard In 1990. all of Fairchild's legal appeals failed. 1995. The evidence failed to supply the missing link that would tie the defendant to the criminal act.Md. supra note 125.27 The trial judge suppressed Bolding's confession and then acquitted her of all charges.34.g. SeeWECHT.111. have admitted that physical assault and abuse were common interrogation tactics at the time of Fairchild's arrest.supra note 3. 52 Patch. like Fairchild. Bolding:Defendantas Victim.468 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. supra note 135. New York State Police interrogated Delbert Ward. 330 SeePERSKE.324 The prosecution charged her with three counts of first degree murder and seven counts of assault with intent to murder. 1988.supra note 10. The state's reach exceeded its grasp. Jane Bolding In 1985. "22 s29 Id. 979 F. at A6. William. a fifty-nine-year-old illiterate and mentally handicapped farmer. in effect.326The medical examiners had initially classified Bolding's patients as dying from natural causes.Sept. 1995. were tortured by Pulaski County Sheriffs in the Mason murder investigation-allegations that the courts had largely dismissed in finding that Fairchild's confessions were voluntary and reliable.WASH.32" 3. 2.. 32 Ginsburg. These admissions.211 on Tue. Nurse Tells of Trial. 1992). and he was executed on August 31. 88 into confessing. at 255.. 324 Keith Harrison.. supranote 125. corroborate the testimony of the 13 other African-American men who. Lockhart. TIMES.330 Ward reported that he had been in- 321 Confessionat Gunpoint?. See.2d 636 (8th Cir. Fairchild v. Frank Gibson and Calvin Rollins. e.

Most importantly. 332 SeegenerallyPERSKE. 33 Id. Ward responded: "They said if I cooperated it would go easier . while the lower part of the left lung was covered with scar tissue that held it to the chest cavity."5 At the same time." WECHT. they would let me go home.supra note 3. My brother had just passed away . at trial. at 245-48. William Ward's enlarged heart. supra note 135. Dr. at 255. Id. he did not believe that a homicide had occurred. 333WECHT. not of asphyxiation. both lungs showed 'prominent arteriosclerotic of cardiopulmonary disease. and (4) there was not a bluish or purple appearance to the skin. 337 Id.supranote 135. Cyril Wecht testified for the defense that William Ward died of natural causes. the evidence supported the conclusion that William Ward died of natural causes. (3) there was no thinning of the blood.supranote 134.34. It wasn't true.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 469 timidated into confessing. the right lung weighed almost twice as much as the left. at 247. Humphrey Germaniuk. Wecht argues that Dr. at 256-60.211 on Tue. at 252-54.3"' and thereafter steadfastly maintained his innocence. Dr. so I said yes..3"2 When the Assistant Medical Examiner of Onondaga County. Dr.. Germaniuk re-classified William Ward's death as a homicide. Germaniuk misrepresented the tesmeaning and significance of certain findings. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Four common and telltale signs that should have been present if William Ward had died of asphyxia were not there: (1) William Ward's nose and mouth were free of trauma or blood. and his fluid-filled lungs supplied clear evidence that he had died of natural disease. (2) there was no evidence of regurgitation.supra note 3. this was clear evidence of congestion due to an inadequately functioning heart. Dr. I was nervous and shook up.111..337 while the forensic pathologist Dr. 3" As Dr."' However. SeealsoFace to Face with ConnieChung. that during his trial testimony Dr. Cyril Wecht reports: for one thing. at 223. Instead. Germaniuk botched the initial autopsy. at 90. I was tired.3" After al331 PERSKE. clogged coronary and pulmonary arteries. supranote 135.336Nevertheless. I thought if I said yes. that he provided factually incorrect This content downloaded from 146. Germaniuk testified for the prosecution that William Ward died of asphyxiation.. WECHT. that he changed his initial report and the cause of death listed on the death certificate only after he learned that criminal charges would be brought against Delbert Ward (but before receiving results from William Ward's toxicology and microscopic examinations). 331 Id. filled out William Ward's death certificate and turned the body over to the funeral home. I hadn't eaten all day. plaques' of the pulmonary arteries-another sign Considered with the enlarged liver and spleen.334 There was no credible evidence linking Delbert Ward to his brother's death. When asked at trial why he confessed. immediately after learning of Delbert Ward's confession. ss4Id..

at SV5. 346 Id.supra note 4. and that his testimony at trial was "intellectually dishonest. Minnesota. in Simi Valley."' The police denied that they coerced Benavidez's confession."'46 6. 12 & Dec. at 249. Luis Roberto Benavidez confessed to the slaying of Marcos Anthony Scott more than two years earlier. 339 PERSKE. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . L. at 260-62. at B5. Stangel. 25354. the investigator who had elicited Ward's false confession "was reprimanded and ended up taking an early retirement in Florida. Oregon State Police lured Stangel from her home state.. Ct. supranote 135. State v. L. at SV1. Judge Rules Man's Murder ConfessionCan Be Used In Trial. California.341 Benavidez claimed that he confessed only because his interrogators threatened to send his girlfriend to prison for the murder and place their two-year-olddaughter in a foster home if he did not confess.211 on Tue.A. MurderSuspect'sBail Upheld. 345Id. and the jury acquitted Benavidez of the murder charge."3' 5. 343 Carol Bidwell. 34oWECHT. 9.. back to Portland by secretly funding her trip (via Wahl's family) to at- timony. at 93. there was no separate evidence to substantiate the murder charge. supra note 3. WECHT. DAILY NEWS. June 25. 88 most nine hours of deliberation. 96151205) (Clatsop County Cir.34. at 262. 1992.A.339 Two days after the trial. Apr. Or. Linda Stangel In 1995. 347 This content downloaded from 146.347 After Wahl's death.. David Wahl. the jury acquitted Ward of murdering his brother.DefenseLawyerSays Confessionis False. We had to find corroborating evidence besides his confession that pointed to his guilt . 344 Carol Bidwell. s42Id.470 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. Luis RobertoBenavidez In 1992." Id. 1996 (No.344 There was no credible evidence linking Benavidez to the crime. Suppression Hearing Testimony of Richard J.supranote 135. Oregon State Police coerced Linda Stangel into confessing to shoving her boyfriend. 1992.111. DAILYNEWS. 541 Lozano.) (on file with authors)."43and the judge ruled that the confession was admissible. 11. Nov. off a trail 320 feet above the Oregon Coast. Astoria. Ofshe.345The jury forewoman stated that "the prosecution did not prove that Roberto was the killer..

supra note 350. 10. fake push"-carried no punishment. This content downloaded from 146. 7. WIRE(Jan. 15. at 191-93. OREGONIAN.211 on Tue. supra note 349. See also Kate Freedlander. 349 Report 96151205) (on file with authors) [hereinafter Report of Detective Hampton]. at B05. several hours away. at 12. Saul Kassin & Karyln McNall. (Oct. the state never produced any evidence that a crime occurred. 35 Id. at B01. in Astoria. Police Interrogationsand Confessions:CommunicatingPromisesand Threatsby PragmaticImplication. at 13. 1997."49Knowing that Stangel was terrified of heights. State Police. at B01. June 24. 1997. Stangel's several different accounts of her panic response were inconsistent with one another and all failed to describe physical circumstances that would have caused Wahl to fall from the cliff-even if Stangel had panicked and pushed him. 15 LAw& HUM. 556 Freedlander. Stangel confessed to accidentally pushing her boyfriend off the cliff. 357 Kate Freedlander.BEHAV.111.Jan. OREGONIAN. supra note 349. Social Psychology. 3 Freedlander. 11. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .350 two detectives obliged her to walk up the narrow. at 12. 1996). Bus. 6-10 (No.353 To escape the immediate stress of the narrow and terrifying heights. DefendantFound Boyfriend'sScreamAnnoying. supra note 350. 1997).31 Yet there was no evidence linking Stangel to the crime. Stangel broke down in apparent fear of the cliff edge as they climbed the trail. steadily rising bluff trail from which they presumed her boyfriend had fallen.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 471 tend Wahl's memorial service. 247-50 (1991). Stangel Says ConfessionsCoerced. 550 Id. 3" The accidentscenariotechnique relies on communicating a promise of leniency for its efficacy and has been demonstrated to elicit false confessions. at B01. See also Interview with 354 Report Linda Stangel.351 Despite considerable pressure from the police.357 and thus no '" CourtTV to Air Live Coverageof Oregon v. of Detective Hampton. SeeOfshe & Leo. at 13. Stangel maintained her innocence prior to being manipulated up the trail. 206-07.34. Or.supra note 4. Moreover. the police transported her to the scene of the alleged crime. Linda Jean Stangel.233. but also by using the accident scenario technique"55to create the impression that her admission-to pushing Wahl off the cliff in a panic after he gave her a 'joking. 551 Report of Detective Hampton. since Wahl's body did not wash up for weeks. 1996.348After Stangel arrived in Portland.352and consistently told police that she had last seen Wahl when he went off to take a walk along the coast. of Detective Hampton of Or.354 The police elicited Stangel's confession not only by playing on her fear of heights. Jan.

"59 a jury convicted Stangel of second degree manslaughter. MotherTellsof Loud ArgumentsBetweenSon.. 1997.36 and she was sentenced to more than six years in prison. Apprehension. Girlfriend. 1995) (on file with authors). The police officers who elicited Stangel's confession did not take a polygraph examination. Bureau of Crim.: 7. 49. DEPRIVATIONS OF LIBERTY AND MISCARRIAGES OFJUSTICE Cases involving suspected or established false confessions typically result in some deprivation of the false confessor's liberty. See Letter from David E. FALSECONFESSIONSAND CASE OUTCOMES A.OREGONIAN. SEAT. 23. (Dec. 25. The harms of false confessions can be measured by the amount of liberty deprived in each case.Feb. Paul.111. Each case outcome is classified into one of four categories (wrongful arrest/detention. Jan. 18.358 Based solely on the contents of her coerced and unreliable confession. 88 cause of death could be determined. 37. wrongful incarceration and wrongful execution) corresponding to the amount of harm done.LE TIMES. 59. 11. 1997. The amount of deprivation may vary from a brief wrongful arrest and detention to lifelong incarceration or execution. 15.34. Or. 63 ID Nos. This content downloaded from 146. 62 ID Nos. 5. Stangel. Stangel took a polygraph examination administered by a police agency in Minnesota. 8. 10.361 IV. at D06. 16. 17. 21.supra 561 WomanSentencedin Fatal Push. to Dean Schroeder.: 1. Knefelkamp. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 11. 59 At the prosecutor's request. Minn. 14. 28. 64 ID Nos. 29. at B02.LEO & OFSHE 472 [Vol. TABLE BI MAGNITUREOF HARM RESULTINGFROM FALSECONFESSION Degree of Deprivationof Liberty Arrest and Detention Total 5562 26 Prosecutions M DismissedPriorto suppressionhearing 8 DismissedPostsuppression/priorto trial 1036 Percentageof Total Cases(60) 8% 43% 13% 17% The Deputy State Medical Examiner found that the victim's injuries could have 358 been caused either by a vehicle accident or by falling from a high place. 57. St. 13.: 3. 360 Freedlander. 56. note 131. the judge refused to allow the polygraph result to be used at the suppression hearing. Deputy Sheriff. 13. wrongful prosecution. See Kate Freedlander. Although Stangel passed the examination. at A01. Astoria. 31. Clatsop County Sheriffs Office. Table Bi summarizes the deprivations of liberty and miscarriages of justice associated with the sixty cases involved in this study.211 on Tue.

General Sometimes police extract a confession from an innocent suspect that they initially believe to be true.211 on Tue. 19. 34. 51. 27. This content downloaded from 146. 3 ID Nos. TypeI Cases:False ConfessionsThat Do Not Lead to Conviction(52 %) a. 36. the rules of American criminal procedure are structured to allocate the risk of error so as to minimize the possibility of convicting the innocent. 52. 39. 42. In other instances. 66 371 ID Nos.: 4. %7 In the few cases involving an indeterminate sentence. Indeed. 46.: 6. 69 ID Nos. Type I cases occur when police. CLASSIFYINGCASE OUTCOMES In general. 24. 53. 45.: 55. 32.: 10. 570 ID Nos. 30. 12. 50. prosecutors. 43. 372ID No. 1. but either they or the prosecutors realize is false before the filing of charges. 47. 48. 58. 41.34.: 33. Sometimes officials do not come to the realization that the confession is false until after another suspect has confessed to the crime. trialjudges or juries correct the initial error of relying on a questionable confession. 54. and those that result in miscarriages of justice and wrongful deprivation of many years of liberty and/or of life (Type II cases). 60. 40. police and prosecutors realize that an innocent suspect has confessed because it is physically impossible for the suspect to have committed the crime. ID No. 38. the upper limit of the sentence was chosen.111. false confession cases can be usefully divided into two categories: those that result in pre-trial deprivations of liberty (Type I cases). 20. 44. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 35.: 9. There are multiple points in the trial process at which the criminal justice system has the potential to be self-correcting. And sometimes poM5ID Nos: 2.FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] DismissedAcquittedat trial Convictions VacatedbyJudge priorto sentence Defendantsentenced to:67 5-9 Years 8M 29 1 3M68 473 13% 48% 2% 5% >10Years 10M9 17% Life Imprisonment Death Sentence 11370 18% 5% Executed 3371 1 2% B. 22. 26.

contradicts the known facts of the crime). at 23. at A5. This content downloaded from 146.111. supra note 4.385 b. but was released when the real killers confessed. whose confession to capital murder and robbery was disregarded when the true kiland Donler confessed and identified his two co-perpetrators. LEGAL STUD.380 Several such cases described above include: Paul Reggetz. REV. who died of natural causes.34. 380 Many miscarriages of justice appear to be discovered by confessions from the true perpetrator. 373Phillips. sodomy when two other men confessed to the crime. supra note 4. . The Risks of Death: WhyErroneousConvictions are Commonin Capital Cases.469 (1996)."38 Anthony Atkinbut was released to murder and who confessed son. supra note 4.L.. 16J.375 Jose Soto Martinez's376 and Ivan Reliford's377confessions to crimes which were committed when all were in custody. Loss of Innocence:EyewitnessIdentificationand Proofof Guilt. 179 Ofshe & Leo.384 were murder whose ald Shoup.supra note 4.e. 382 SeeColwell."373 Ruben Trujillo's.374 Pedro Delvillar's. SeeGranberry.474 LEO &'OFSHE [Vol. ' SeegenerallyYANT.supra note 3. 88 lice and prosecutors never come to this realization even though the confession is demonstrably not true (i. at 1A. supra note 4.395 (1987). dropped after charges capital the true killer confessed.378and Martin Salazar's confession to a crime that scientific evidence proved he did not commit. supra 378 SeeRossmiller & Creno.383 Robert Moore. who was cleared of murdering his wife when a neighbor confessed to the crime. Samuel Gross. The Type I false confession cases described above include: Billy Gene Davis' confession that he killed his ex-girlfriend (who turned up alive). supranote 3. who confessed to killing his girlfriend. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . supra note 44. at B3. at B4. at Al. •3 Perrusquia.44 BUFF.211 on Tue.379 ConfessionsFromThe True Perpetrator Often police or prosecutors only discover and acknowledge their error in eliciting a false confession or charging an innocent defendant prior to conviction because they have accidentally or unintentionally obtained a reliable confession from the true perpetrator(s) of the crime. "' Holland. SocialPsychology. "4 Herbert. Christina Mason's confession to killing her child.74 375 Seeid. at 1. supra note 4. See Feldman. 177 SeeNathan. supra note 4.8"'Guy Lewis. at B1. 376 note 62. See generallySamuel Gross. at Al.

391 Seesupra notes 204-11 and accompanying text. 2d 278 (Fla.FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 475 c. supranote 92.34. App. Sawyer."? Similarly.89 After a Cook County Circuit Court judge suppressed Boyd's confession. at B1. at B2.211 on Tue. "' note 4. using a guided visualization and relaxation based hypnotic induction. In 1983. Wheeling. 561 So. 390Id. in 1994 prosecutors in Louisiana dismissed second degree murder charges against Cyril Walton after realizing that many of the details in his confession simply did not fit the facts of the crime. Ct. 393In all sixty cases documented in this article judicial suppression of the confession would almost certainly have caused the prosecutor to dismiss all charges against the defendant because in each of these cases no credible evidence linked the suspect to the crime and varying amounts of evidence indicated that the suspect was factually innocent. 39 SeeState v. supra note 4.393 they may also vacate a conviction both prior to and after sentencing. Illinois police elicited from fourteen-year-old William Boyd a confession to murdering a schoolmate. Snohomish County.111. prosecutors sometimes drop charges against a defendant who has confessed because the confession does not match the facts of the crime and the prosecutor thus recognizes that it is of no evidentiary value. Washington prosecutors dropped charges against Charles Lawson when they realized that Lawson had wrongly reported many of the crucial facts in his confessions to two separate murders. d.m Similarly. supra 389Id. prosecutors dismissed charges. In 1991. prosecutors charged him with murder. JudicialSuppression Sometimes prosecutors are forced to drop charges after a judge suppresses a confession because there is no physical or even uncompromised testimonial evidence to implicate the defendant. Drell. Dist. This happened to the charges against Lavale Burt in m Houtz. 1990). This content downloaded from 146. in the Sawyer case. ProsecutorialIntervention Though it appears to happen relatively infrequently.39' Florida prosecutors dismissed charges after the trial judge suppressed Tom Sawyer's grossly inaccurate confession. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ." Although bite marks on the victim's body did not match Boyd's teeth. at 11. m Darby.392 Though judges can prevent Type I cases from developing into Type II cases if they suppress the confession prior to trial.

Seealso RADELETETAL. Alabama vacated Melvin Beamon's 1989 murder conviction (and twenty-five-yearprison sentence) after an eyewitness to the crime came forward and exonerated him.111. JuryAcquittals If police fail to detect that a confession is unreliable. at 292..394Ajury subsequently convicted Burt. Chicago. 94 . a judge in Montgomery.3d 1337. and fabricating evidence of his guilt.2d 1156 (Alaska 1985). G. 1343-44 (7th Cir. however. Coerced This content downloaded from 146. 1996) (reversing district court exclusion of expert testimony by Richard Ofshe on the phenomenon of false confessions). 401 Interrogation Transcripts of George Abney. at 6. Miller & F. 28-Sept.401 police in Flagstaff.396 Beamon had confessed after seventeen hours of interrogation. at 292. 88 1985. 1987) (on file with authors). threatening him with the death penalty. during which Montgomery.402 At trial.476 LEO & OFSHE [Vol.. if the interrogation is not recorded.. 711 P.supra note 9. identified the likely killer and analyzed the Warden.99 they sometimes acquit defendants who have confessed falsely..J. Hall. Boster. Confessions. RADELETETAL. SeeStephan v."98the defendant may still be able to persuade a jury of his innocence. 96RADELETET AL. Alabama police beat and threatened to shoot him. Flagstaff.211 on Tue. at 42-46. ThreeImagesof the Trial: TheirImplicationsfor 399 Seegenerally IN THELEGALPROCESS19 (B. in 1986 after almost ten hours of interrogation.supra note 9.R. Warden. prosecutors fail to dismiss charges and the judge fails to suppress the confession."95 Similarly. 402 Ofshe. at 292. For example. 93 F.. supra note 4. the defense presented Abney's unimpeachable alibi. Psychological Research. Between his conviction and sentencing. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1977).s97 e. 1. causing the trial judge to vacate his conviction. supranote 9. supra note 4. 397Id 398 In some cases a judge may not be provided with sufficient evidence to warrant suppressing the confession.supranote 90. Sales ed. Though juries tend to regard confessions as the most probative and damning evidence of guilt possible. the grandmother of the murder victim contacted the judge and provided new evidence showing that Burt was not the killer. Ariz. a defendant may not be able to overcome a police officer's perjured testimony denying the use of coercive interrogation techniques and strategies. in PSYCHOLOGY to true if juries are educated about the social psybe This especially appears 400 chology of American interrogation practices and are shown precisely how a particular interrogation affected the defendant's decision to confess. Illinois police extracted a confession from Burt after slapping him around.4? For example. State. See United States v. Arizona extracted a highly probable false confession to a Navajo ritual slaying from George Abney in a recorded interrogation. Police Dep't (Aug.34. at 42-46.

A Peekat BackAUlley Justice. at Al. 405Lack of Evidence. and some false confessors are sentenced to life terms and remain incarcerated to this day. and imprisoned. but a spot of blood found on one of Bingham's sneakers was not the victim's and the semen found on the victim's body was not Bingham's. 40 The victim of this brutal stabbing. supra note 4. Alaska acquitted Richard Bingham of first degree murder and sexual assault. convicted. Siegel. TypeI Cases:False ConfessionsThatLead to WrongfulConviction and Imprisonment (48%) General Type II cases are those in which miscarriages have occurred and the justice system has clearly failed: not only have innocent individuals been made to confess to crimes they did not commit. calling for reforms both in the police and prosecutors' offices. Arizona police interrogators elicited a highly probable false confession to sexual assault of a minor from Dale Zamarrippa. Mesa. 4 SeeThomas. SeeSiegel. Several false confessors in this a. Zamarrippa was also eventually acquitted by a jury. OutragedJury. at 133. supra note 93. some suspects are eventually released and exonerated. Minnesota jury did not merely acquit Betty Burns of the attempted murder to which she had confessed.405 Not only did Bingham's confession contradict the facts of the crime. at Al.211 on Tue. and requesting that Burns' record be expunged and she be compensated for her ordeal.46 In 1989. some are released after serving a prison term but are never exonerated. as well as three eyewitnesses.34. a jury in Juneau. but they have also been wrongly prosecuted. Following Type II errors. but took the additional unusual step of publishing a thirteen page letter denouncing the interrogation of Burns. a Minneapolis. at B4. False confessions may lead to wrongful conviction either when a suspect pleads guilty to avoid an anticipated harsher punishment or when a judge or jury convicts at trial.supra note 4.111.?4 In 1997. 06 Id.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 477 interrogation for the jury--who acquitted Abney.407 2.supra note 4. This content downloaded from 146. testified that Burns did not commit the crime. The frequency of miscarriages among the sixty false confession cases studied is reported in Table B2. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . expressing alarm that the true perpetrator remained at large.403 In 1993.

412 Radelet. the specter of an innocent false confessor pleading guilty seems fantastic. All of the policeinduced false confessions documented here resulted in some deprivation of liberty. 48. 36. 50. 55. 19. and (3) cases in which one or both of the authors have consulted.: 2. while 48% of the defendants suffered miscarriages ofjustice. This content downloaded from 146. 60. and in one case the defendant was executed. 33. 53. convictions and incarceration. 44.478 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. 58. Seealso Hugo Adam Bedau & Constance Putinnocent. 12. 30. In practice. 51. False Confessionsand OtherFollies. 88 study were sentenced to death. 410 ID Nos. 43. 41. 4' ID Nos. 42.111. 32. Confession evidence is sufficient to produce wrongful arrests. criminal justice officials and layjurors often treat confession evidence as dispositive. 409 ID Nos. 24.: 4. 45. Bedau and Putnam document nearly 20 cases in which individuals entered guilty pleas to capital (or potentially capital) crimes of which they were entirely ETAL.: 9.supra note 9. 408 These data do not represent a statistically meaningful sample of false confessions since they were not randomly selected from a definable universe of cases. (2) recent cases. 46. 40.34. in 12% (7) of the cases reported here. 6. 39. 54. Fifty-two percent of the false confessors' wrongful deprivation of liberty ended before conviction. 47. 20. RADELET nam. 27. 10. so much so that they often allow it to outweigh even strong evidence of a suspect's factual innocence. Yet this is not uncommon. 22. It is likely that these cases overrepresent certain categories: (1) famous cases. 34. 26. 52.211 on Tue. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . TABLEB2 THE RISKOFMISCARRIAGE ATTRIBUTABLE TO FALSECONFESSION'48 Outcomeof Confessor's Decisionto go to trial Releasedpriorto decisionpoint Pled Guilty Acquittedat Trial Convictedat Trial Number of Cases Riskof a Miscarriage 23 7409 8410 22411 12% 36% Plea Bargains If it seems counter-intuitive that an innocent person would confess falsely. 35.. supra note 3. the false b.412 As Table B2 indicates.in CONNERY. at 69. 38.

The judge found Carmen mentally incompetent to plead or waive his rights prior to trial. an appellate court judge nullified Carmen's conviction. Jack Carmen In 1975 Jack Carmen. Carmen pled guilty to the crime to avoid the death penalty. 41 RADELET Id. rape and murder of a fourteen-year-old girl in Columbus. Id.417 confessed three times4l and subsequently pled guilty to the murder of Carolyn Hamm. This content downloaded from 146. Id. UNITEDPRESS INT'L. Social Psychology. 1990. another mentally retarded adult. 20.419 In Vasquez's case. 418 419 420 Id. See also Harry Franken.416 ii. confessed to the kidnapping. at 173.111. Aurora. at 295.422In 1986. SeeCarolyn Click.. GeneralAssemblyCompensatesWronglyJailed Man.421 iii.413 Though there was no evidence against Carmen and three eyewitnesses placed him elsewhere at the time of murder. O'Grady:Case Now 414 415 Dec.211 on Tue. a serial killer. at 62. and he was subsequently acquitted in ajury trial.supranote 4. 416 Id. i.supra note 9. at 222-26. a mentally retarded twenty-six-yearold. 7. David Vasquez In 1984. 417 MONES. 1977. Missouri police induced Wilson to confess to murder and arson. Closed.414Instead he was sentenced to life in prison.423 Wilson pled guilty to first degree murder to avoid the death penalty and instead was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of ETAL. JohnnyLee Wilson Vasquez was fortunate compared to Johnny Lee Wilson. for which he was sentenced to thirtyfive years in prison.Mar. 421 42S Id. COLUMBUSCITIZEN-JOURNAL.supra note 84.34. CarmenClearedin Slaying.420 and Vasquez was released from prison after serving almost five years of his sentence.4 5 Two years later. at 1. David Vasquez. who is also mentally retarded. DOUGLAS& OLSHAKER. supra note 4.FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 479 confessor chose to plead guilty to avoid an anticipated harsher punishment-typically the death penalty. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . at 173-74. the police also subsequently identified the true murderer. at 56. Ohio. 422 SeeOfshe & Leo. at 174. at 327-33.

at 136-39.432 engaged in bestiality. at 8-81 429 Ofshe. State and federal courts have rejected Ingram's appeal to withdraw his guilty plea on five occasions.480 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. Seealso Ofshe.supranote 4. Paul Ingram In 1988.211 on Tue. 138. at 110-11. FAMILY SHATTERING OFANAMERICAN 104 (1994). police in Olympia. InadvertentHypnosis.4" performed coathanger abortions. George. Wilson was not released from prison until 1995-more than eight years after his conviction. 433 Id.supranote 4.NEWSTRIBUNE. and the Washington State Clemency and Pardons Board recently rejected Ingram's bid for clemency. 14. supra note 432. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 430 Id. 1988) (on file with authors). supra note 4 at 139-49. 1995.44 The prosecution was able to save face by getting Ingram to enter a guilty plea to six counts of third degree rape. at C01. InadvertentHypnosis.34.44 Although in 1988 the true killer confessed and provided officials with details of the crime that only the perpetrator would know.OLYMPIAN. Hunter T. 437 In May.supranote 4. InadvertentHypnosis. Inadvertent Hypnosis. at 226. July 6. 1990 Ingram was sentenced to twenty years in prison. see also WRIGHT. sacrificed and cannibalized small children. 435WRIGHT.47 424 425 Id. Washington extracted from Paul Ingram a highly probable false confession to numerous fictitious crimes42--including sexually molesting his two daughters. at 116-17. at Al. Id.supra note 4. Sheriff's Office at 2-12 (Nov. Ex-LawmanIngram Dec. supra note 432. Hopesfor Mercyfrom Lowry. at 225-26. at 136.435 Though the sensational and bizarre circumstances of Paul Ingram's case remain unique in the annals of American interrogation history.47 supervising the gang rape and bondage of his daughters and wife on numerous occasions. 436 SeeOfshe. at 139-49. 1996. 88 parole for fifty years. at 184. the outcome of his case is not. 434Ofshe. Thurston County Wash. Ofshe. See id. supranote 427.111.4• iv. InadvertentHypnosis. 426 427 This content downloaded from 146. at 136. Interrogation Transcript of Paul Ingram. Despite compelling evidence that his guilty plea was predicated upon a false confession. 28. SeeBrad Shannon. when the Governor of Missouri pardoned him. SATAN: A CASEOFRECOVERED ANDTHE REMEMBERING MEMORY 432LAWRENCE WRIGHT.428 and being a demon-possessed member of a satanic cult29 that allegedly committed murders.4" Ingram remains incarcerated. 43 Id.433and dismembered. at 134. 428 Interrogation Transcript of Paul Ingram. at 137-38. Judges RejectIngram'sGuiltyPlea Withdrawal.43' signed loyalty oaths in blood.

Even an unsupported and disconfirmed confession is often sufficient to lead a trier of fact to judge the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Pennsylvania stumbled upon the true perpetrator.446 Despite additional safeguards.48 confessed and then pled guilty to the murder of a twenty-fiveyear-old woman whose body was found in a landfill. also mentally handicapped adults.439 He was sentenced to ten to twenty years in prison but was released two years later when the police in Dauphin County.440 a serial killer.441who con- fessed to the crime.34.FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 481 v. both falsely confessed. at Al. supranote 3. Indiana drug dealer. at C1.111. supra note 4.AttackLed to his Capture. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 10. Christopher SmithandRalphJacobs In 1991 Christopher Smith and Ralph Jacobs. at 239-56. supranote 3. 442 Shellem.211 on Tue.supra note 4. the murder of a New Castle.Mar. at 282-356.FRANK ETAL.444 Both had served eighteen months in prison when police arrested the true killer. police continue to elicit false confessions in the post-Miranda era. WilliamKelley In 1990 William Kelley. supranote 3. Jailed Man SetFree. at 367-78. 439Id. at Bl. and pled guilty to. As Table B3 indicates.RADELET This content downloaded from 146. and juries continue to convict false confessors at an alarmingly high rate. Tables B3 and B4 report the defendant's risk of conviction at trial when police have elicited a false confession. 440Iad 441 Pete Shellem. at 199-249. RADIN. & FRANK. who was linked to the crime by physical evidence (unlike Smith and Jacobs) and eventually convicted. 443Booher. General The history of criminal justice in America prior to the Miranda decision is replete with instances of juries convicting innocent defendants who were linked to the crime only by a false confession.supranote 4. 1993..supranote 9.445 c. 446 SeeBORCHARD.442 vi. at Al. Jailed Man SetFree. a mentally handicapped adult. the thirty false confessors 38 Shellem. JuryConvictions i. Miller Pleads Guiltyin Rape of City Woman. 444Id.443 Smith was sentenced to thirty-eight years and Jacobs to eight. HARRISBURGPATRIOT.

highly probable and probable) as false confessors. while 47% of proven false confessors must make a decision about pleading to an offer of lesser punishment or undergoing trial. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Not surprisingly.211 on Tue. Tables B4 and B5 reveal the fate of those identified as false confessors while controlling for the basis on which the identification was made. the alibi the police ignored when the defendant offered it during interrogation) or for other strong reasons (e. 27%). While the information reported in Table B4 indicates moderate percentage differences between outcomes for persons provenor classified(i. This content downloaded from 146..g. the false confessors who are ever going to be proven innocent are likely to have this proof come to light shortly after their confession. whether the false confessor's innocence is proven or classified as highly probable or probable. The high percentage of pre-trial dismissals is likely due to proof of a confessor's innocence coming to light early in the pre-trial discovery process (e. a false confessor was approximately three times more likely to be found guilty at trial than to be acquitted (73% vs. Slightly over half (53%) of the proven false confessors have charges dismissed prior to trial. The vast majority (81%) of these false confessors find themselves having to choose either to plead guilty to a crime they did not commit or go to trial and risk the harshest possible punishment...482 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. the differences are minor in light of the relatively small number of cases presently available for comparison. 88 whose cases proceeded to trial had a 73% chance of being convicted.g. only 19% of defendants classified as highlyprobableor probablefalse confessors are spared having to choose to undergo trial or to plead guilty. when scientific test results become available) or when the defense establishes the defendant's alibi (e..g. The false confession cases documented here produce a generally consistent outcome. These data demonstrate that a false confession is an exceptionally dangerous piece of evidence to put before a jury even when the other case evidence weighs heavily in favor of the defendant's innocence. Absent the discovery of evidence dispositively proving the defendant's innocence. the victim turns up alive).34. Despite the absence of any physical or other significant credible evidence corroborating a confession.e. Defendants were identified as false confessors based either on evidence that objectively proved their innocence or supported the inference that they were innocent.111.

52. 15. 27. 30. 55. 449ID Nos. 40. 16.34. and the increasing ability of defense attorneys to explain false confessions at trial. 36. 31. 20. 452 IDNo. 18. 53. 28. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 4. 3. 35. a defendant has a better chance of pretrial dismissal of charges or acquittal at trial because of advances in scientific technology. 14. 50. 45. 34. 4. 32. 26. This content downloaded from 146. 60. 22. 27. 19. 26.FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 483 TABLEB3 THERISKOFMISCARRIAGE ATTRIAL OFJUSTICE GIVENA FALSE CONFESSION"' Outcomeof Confessor's Decisionto go to Trial Number All FalseConfessors Verdict of Guilt 30 Verdict of Innocent 73%" 27%49 TABLEB4 THE RISKOFMISCARRIAGE OFJUSTICE GIVENA PROVENFALSECONFESSION ProvenFalse Confessors(N=34) Released Prior to Number (%) Likelihoodof Miscarriage Riskof a Guilty Verdict 18 450(53%) DecisionPoint Pled Guilty 5451 (15%) 15% Acquittedat Trial 1452 (3%) - Convictedat Trial 10453(29%) 29% Totals 34 (100%) 44% 90% "' It seems likely that in more recent cases. 23. 47. 4s0 ID Nos. 33. the increasing use of audio and video recording during interrogation. 40 ID Nos. 11. 24. 6. 12. 2. 54. 4'1 ID Nos. 33. 10. 1. 38. 48. 41. 24. 6. 51. 20. 21. 19. 58.111. 46. 8. 29. 9. 12. 42. 44. 17. 13. 22. 2. 5. 7.211 on Tue. 453 ID Nos. 25.

40.111. 45. 46. 37% of those classifiedas false confessors are acquitted. Some of those who were later provento be false confessors were only saved from their sentences of execution or life imprison- 454 ID Nos. 49. there is a strong likelihood that a miscarriage of justice will occur if a false confessor undergoes a trial. It appears that at the time of trial the exculpatory evidence favoring those who were destined to someday be proven innocent was weaker than the exculpatory evidence supporting those who even today can only be classifiedas false confessors. 90% of the defendants who would someday be proveninnocent are convicted when their false confessions are brought into court. 455 ID 37. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 56. 457ID Nos. 38. 51. 55.34. 41. 60. If tried. 43. while 63% of the classifiedfalse confessors are convicted at their trials.484 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. Nos. 48. It is alarming that about three-quarters (73%) of all false confessors who went to trial were convicted. 42.211 on Tue. 36. Further. 456 ID Nos. 44. while only 10% of those belatedly proven innocent are acquitted. 39. 57. 54. 88 TABLEB5 THE RISKOFMISCARRIAGE OFJUSTICE GIVENLIKELY FALSECONFESSION ProvenFalse Confessors(N=34) Released Prior to Number (%) 5454 Likelihoodof Miscarriage Riskof a Guilty Verdict (19%) DecisionPoint Pled Guilty 2455(8%) Acquitted at Trial 7456 (27%) 8% - 37% 63% Convictedat Trial 12457(46%) 46% Totals 26 (100%) 54% As reported in Table B3. 47. 58. 59. 52. 35. 50. This content downloaded from 146.e.. Table 4 reports that when proven and classifiedconfession cases (i. highlyprobable + probable)are separated there is a 27% higher level of risk of conviction at trial for those whose innocence will be proven much later. 53.

FALSECONFESSIONS

1998]

485

ment by new scientific developments such as DNA analysis or a
true perpetrator's long-delayed decision to confess.458
ii. CaseIllustrations
a. OfficiallyExoneratedAfterConviction

The list of false confessors wrongfully convicted by juries is
long. After Bradley Cox confessed to two rapes, he was convicted by a jury in 1980 and sentenced to fifty to 200 years in
prison based on a now-proven false confession.459 He served
nearly two years before the true perpetrator confessed.4" The
so-called "dream confession" Chicago, Illinois police obtained
from Steven Linscott461 was later proven false.46YBased on this
so-called confession, a jury convicted Linscott of murder, and a
judge sentenced him to forty years in prison.463 In 1983, Fort
Lauderdale, Florida police extracted a false confession to double murder from John Purvis,464a mentally handicapped adult.465
Ajury convicted Purvis,46and the judge sentenced him to life in
prison plus two twenty-year terms."46 When the actual killers
were caught, Purvis was released after nine years of incarceration.468
In 1979 in SaintJoseph, Missouri, Melvin Lee Reynolds, another mentally handicapped adult,4" falsely confessed to the abduction and murder of a four-year-old boy470 after nearly
thirteen hours of interrogation.47 A jury convicted Reynolds of
second degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison.472
458 SeeCONNORS
ETAL.,supra note

4, at 34-76.

59 HUFFETAL., supra note 3, at 123, 127, 136-37.
460

Id at 137.

Interrogation Transcript of Steve Linscott, Oak Park, Ill. Police Dep't (Oct. 8,
1980).
462 CONNORSETAL., supra note 4, at 64-65.
463 LINSCOTT,
supra note 4, at 208.
464DAVIs,supra note 4, at 79-99.
465 Id at 60.
466 Id. at 161.
467 Id. at 164.
9 Yearsin Killing is Freedas 2 Suspectsare Found, N.Y. TIMES,
Jan.
68 Man Imprisoned
17, 1993, at 26.
469GANEY,
supra note 5, at 34.
470 Id. at 39-44.
71 Id. at 43.
472 Id. at 69-70.
461

This content downloaded from 146.111.34.211 on Tue, 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

486

LEO & OFSHE

[Vol. 88

Reynolds was released from prison four years later when the
true perpetrator, a serial murderer who had killed several more
victims after Reynolds' erroneous conviction,4
contacted

"7 Reynolds's interrogation and prosecution illustrates the potentially tragic consequences of police and prosecutorial negligence in false confession cases. Under
considerable pressure to solve the murder of four-year-old Eric Christgen, St. Joseph
police relied on a FBI profile of the killer to round up 150 suspects. Id. at 26. One of
the suspects they interrogated was Harry Fox, a likeable 64-year-old janitor with no
prior record. Id. at 26-27. Thirty minutes into his accusatorial interrogation, Fox experienced convulsions, fell over in his chair, turned colors, collapsed onto the floor
and died of a heart attack-killed by interrogation. Id. at 28. There was never any
evidence against Fox, and his innocence would later be conclusively established.
St. Joseph police then decided to interrogate Reynolds, even though Reynolds did
not match the description eyewitnesses provided of the killer and an alibi witness had
seen and spoken to Reynolds at his home at the time of the murder. Undeterred by
evidence of Reynolds' innocence and an absence of any basis for suspicion, police interrogated Reynolds nine times between June 2, 1978 and February 14, 1979 (once
after hypnotizing him and another time after injecting him with a truth serum). Id. at
37-38. Reynolds finally confessed to accidentally killing Christgen and provided a
written statement that parroted back many of the words, terms and phrases that his
interrogators had used in their questioning. Id. at 39-41. Not surprisingly, Reynolds
got several of the major case facts wrong (e.g., the timing of the child's disappearance, the spot where the body had been found). Id. at 41-44.
Following his confession to the Christgen killing, Reynolds was made to confess to
a similar child murder in Kansas City. Id. at 50-51. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation promptly discounted the confession as false because of the factual inconsistencies and errors in Reynolds's account of the crime. Id. at 51. Shortly afterwards,
Reynolds recanted his confession to the Christgen murder and declared that he confessed falsely because he was frightened by his interrogators and desperately sought to
escape the intolerable pressure of the interrogation. Id. at 51-54. Throughout this
entire ordeal, Reynolds maintained his innocence.
Despite the absence of any evidence confirming Reynolds's questionable confession and the presence of evidence disconfirming it (e.g., Reynolds did not match the
description of eyewitnesses), prosecutors brought Reynolds to trial, the judge declared Reynolds's confession voluntary, the jury convicted him of second degree
murder and sentenced him to life in prison. Id. at 59-70. Shortly thereafter, Reynolds
was repeatedly gang-raped and beaten by inmates in prison, where he feared for his
life. Id. at 71-75. During Reynolds's four years in prison, the real murderer of Eric
Christgen, a psychotic serial killer named Charles Hatcher, attempted to abduct, assault, rape and kill on several occasions. Id. at 235-36. Tragically, Hatcher stabbed
38-year-oldJames Churchill to death in 1981 and in 1982 abducted and killed 11-yearold Michelle Steele, who, like Christgen, lived in St.Joseph. Id. at 236.
Eventually Hatcher confessed to many of his crimes, including the abduction and
murder of both Christgen and Steele. Id. at 141-201. Though Hatcher's confession
included details no one else knew and though Hatcher matched the description of
the adult male seen with Christgen shortly before his abduction, Reynolds's prosecutors initially denied that Reynolds could be innocent. Id. at 167-83. Eventually they
grudgingly conceded Reynolds's innocence and their wrongful prosecution. Id. at
184. Yet the chief of the St. Joseph Police Department continued to insist that Reynolds killed Christgen. Id. at 185, 207. Hatcher was convicted of Christgen's murder,
and Reynolds was eventually declared innocent and released from prison. Id. at 193205.
If St. Joseph police had not extracted an obviously false confession from a vulnerable individual and if prosecutors had not prosecuted an innocent defendant based

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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

FALSECONFESSIONS

1998]

487

authorities and confessed to the crime.474George Parker falsely
confessed to Howell Township, New Jersey police in 1980;475a
jury convicted him of aggravated manslaughter,4" and the judge
sentenced him to twenty years in prison.477He was released five
years later after his girlfriend was found guilty of the murder.478
Laverne Pavlinac confessed falsely to capital murder to Oregon
State Police in 1991, was convicted by a jury, and sentenced to
life in prison; five years later Pavlinac was released from prison
after the true killer came forward and confessed to the crime.
b. Convictedand NeverOfficiallyExonerated

Some false confessors are not as fortunate as Cox, Linscott,
Purvis, Parker, Reynolds, and Pavlinac-all of whom were eventually released and exonerated of their wrongful convictions.
Some innocent individuals who confess falsely are convicted by
juries and never released from prison. For example, Earl Washington, a mentally retarded adult who confessed to rape and
capital murder, was convicted by a jury and sentenced to
death.480Washington spent ten years on Death Row before Virginia's Governor commuted his sentence to life imprisonment.48' The governor refused to pardon Washington even
though a DNA test cleared him of the crimes.482 Martin Tankleff,"48Richard Lapointe484and Jessie Misskelley, Jr.485were also
convicted byjuries and sentenced to life imprisonment solely on
the basis of confessions that were badly flawed, failed to be coron nothing other than his false confession, they might have continued the search for
the killer and caught Hatcher before he killed James Churchill and Michelle Steele.
474Id. at 141-201.
No. A-453-83T4 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Feb. 4, 1986). Seealso
171 State v. Parker,
note
62, at 1.
Nathan, supra
&
Bedau
Radelet,
476
supra note 3, at 150.
note
62, at 1.
Nathan,
supra
477
478

Id

A Questionof Guilt, supranote 4, at 15.
supra note 3, at 121-22. Seealso Hourihan, supranote 4, at 1471.
"' White, supra note 3, at 122.
"'
Id. Washington was barred by Virginia state law from attacking his conviction
on the basis of the DNA evidence because it did not meet the strict requirements of
after-discovered evidence. In Virginia a convicted criminal has only 21 days after the
VA.
entry of a final order to move to set aside a verdict. See id. at 122 n.155 (citing
CT. R. 3A:15(b)).
SuP.
43
Seesupratext accompanying notes 212-26.
notes 227-45.
484Seesupratext accompanying
notes 246-54.
text
See
accompanying
supra
4s
179Seigel,
48 White,

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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

140. and he was sentenced to death. 43 Id. 130. Reyos was never exonerated. 486 487 Seesupratext accompanying notes 181-203. even though the appellate prosecutor conceded that it was physically impossible for Reyos to have committed the crime. accompanying notes 145-49. 286. 331-32.495Finally.'"4Years later an appellate judge vacated Knapp's capital conviction because the prosecutor had withheld exculpatory scientific evidence indicating that one of his children had set the fire.'"4 Though he was released.48' James Harry Reyos confessed to a murder and was sentenced to thirty-eight years and served twelve years in prison. the jury hung again. are convicted by a jury and sentenced to long prison terms. supra note 4. In 1973. 270. Like LaPointe. Seealso Radelet et al. 326-27.489 There was no inculpatory evidence supporting the confession"9 and considerable exculpatory evidence supporting Knapp's innocence. Arizona police extracted from John Knapp a confession to setting the fire to his home that killed his two small children. 88 roborated and were surrounded by case evidence that weighed strongly in favor of their innocence. but a second jury convicted him of capital murder. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Tankleff. 280-81. supra at 393. 393. and once he came within forty hours of being sent to the gas chamber. and in the absence of any other evidence. California District Attorney's Office refused to acknowledge that Page (whose record was spotless and whose life had been exemplary) was innocent and refused to reopen the case.111. at 137. "49Id at 71 ("Although Knapp had confessed.34. Bradley Page was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after two trials and sentenced to six years in state prison. serve their sentences but are never exonerated. Misskelley.488 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. 152. See at 95-104.48" Although new evidence identified an already convicted serial murderer as the true killer. and Washington. at 947. 492 Id. 495 supra 481 Seesupra text 489 PARLOFF. This content downloaded from 146. 494 Id. at 234. the Alameda County. note 4. at 33-41. every detail of the confession was improbable"). Phoenix. however. at 186. note 4..49' Five times warrants were issued for his execution. 164. 116.49" The firstjury hung.211 on Tue. 154. 137. there are many individuals who were induced to confess falsely. •'9 id. Id.494 In Knapp's third trial. PARLOFF. Other false confessors.

Virginia police extracted five contradictory confessions49" from Joseph Giarratano to the rape and murder of fifteen-year-old Michelle Kline and her forty-four-year-old mother. 499 Stephen Hooker. Colman McCarthy.497thereby allowing the state to score the Knapp prosecution as a conviction. at Al. Id. Id. PosT. THENATION. note 4.5" Sperm."). scratches or bruises on him. Giarratano confessed to strangling one of his victims with his hands. at Al. 1991. supra note 502. 1991. Hooker. 505 In addition. at 56. at A27. Toni Kline. at 402.May 24. supra matched Michelle Kline's blood.498 In 1979. at Al. but only one belonged to Giarratano. at Al. 29.U. ReasonableDoubt? New Trial Soughtfor Death Row Prisoner.111. 501 Pamela Overstreet.P. 4. 21 distinct fingerprints were found at the crime scene.WASH. Jim Clardy. 7. The arresting officer submitted a sworn affidavit 504 Clardy.211 on Tue. and are wildly inconsistent in such fundamental matters as the motive and the date and order of killings. Although the blood spot on Giarratano's boots 502 Arney. and it was found in an area that was unconnected to the crime.NEWSWEEK. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . at 395. supra note 4. supra note 4.'" the state offered to forego a fourth prosecution if Knapp pled no contest to second degree murder in exchange for time served. Immediately after accepting the offer Knapp was released from prison. at Al.Death Row Inmate May Not Have CommittedMurdersHe ConfessedTo. at 485. Giarratano's confessions were demonstrably inaccurate on significant points: One of the victims died from a severed artery and bled profusely. Governor Wilder. but police found no blood on Giarratano's clothing.503 In addition. supra had no that Giarratano blood.WASH. Norfolk. but an independent pathologist testified that the hallmarks of manual strangulation 96 Id.504the victims were strangled and stabbed by someone who is right-handed. 97 498 This content downloaded from 146. stating note 499. Mar.501 and bloody shoeprints502found at the crime scene did not link Giarratano to the crime.34. she died of asphyxiation and thus only bled internally.I. both internally and with one another.FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 489 after Knapp spent more then twelve years on death row and fourteen and a half years in maximum security incarceration. TIMES. The autopsy report was changed after Giarratano's confession to corroborate it. 1991. Rally Scheduledon Behalf of Condemned Killer. 16. 1990. 505 David Kaplan & Bob Cohn. at 1. The Killing of Joe Giarratano. Arney. More Than A ReasonableDoubt. 500Arney. Feb.Feb. hair samples. 1990.Oct. REGIONAL NEWS. at 485 ("The five confessions are confused and contradictory. but Giarratano is lefthanded505and has only limited use of his right hand due to neurological damage from childhood. PardonMe.

but no weapon was ever found. 5"4Andrew Martin. Rivera claimed that he lost consciousness during the interrogation ordeal and did not remember signing the confessions. 51 Arney. CHI. Juan Rivera.515 The confessions contained the types of corrections of spelling and grammatical errors516that interrogators are trained to work 506Hooker. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . at Al. 512 Andrew Martin.Nov. 1993. supranote 4. Id.TRIB.510 Granted conditional clemency in 1991. availablein 1993 WL 11127007. at Al. at Al. Martin.508On death row for more than a decade. AnswertoJusticeMay be in Videos. supra note 4.490 LEO & OFSHE [Vol. at Al. Illinois in 1993. Arney. Martin. Giarratano was convicted of capital murder and 509 Harris. a former nurse at the Lake County Jail testified that Rivera was so "dazed and incoherent" an hour before he allegedly confessed that she recommended he be placed on suicide watch. Andrew Martin &James Hill. 25. 17.. supranote 507. supra note 4. Giarratano is currently serving a life term. 88 were not present.TRIB. Rivera TestifiesHe Can't RecallHis Confession. John Harris.. 1993. New Man Linkedto StakerMurder. at 1.CHI. Giarratano came within 37 hours of being executed.POST. At Rivera's trial. 1982.Apr.WASH. supra note 512. he was not released from death row until 1991. 1993. supra note 114.June 13. 5'5 Zorn. stabbed and murdered eleven-year-old Holly Staker.51' In Waukegan. at 1. at 1.. Defense attorneys asserted that Rivera signed the confessions only after suffering an interrogation-induced mental breakdown. a mentally underwent approximately thirtyhandicapped twenty-year-old. at 2. at 1. Seealso Martin & Parsons.. supra note 512. Interrogationof Coercion?:An Issue of Debatein StakerSlaying Case. cooperative and friendly" while confessing to the brutal murder and signing both police-written statements. See Phil 510 In 1980. 508Arney. 1991. CHI. supra note 513. The jail nurse's testimony contradicted police investigators' earlier and repeated testimony that Rivera was "alert. at 1. supra note 507. supra note 499. During his four day interrogation but prior to signing two police-written confessions. at Al.507 Regardless. 9. 1993. Feb. see also Robert Enstad. 23. 6.TRIB. Apr.CHI.PosT.TRIB. 516 Martin & Parsons. at 2. at Al.5" Giarratano stated that he threw the knife he used into the Kline's backyard. In 1981. 1993. at Al.Mar.TRIB. 18.111. 1993. StakerSuspect:INever TouchedThat Girl.TRIB.CHI. McCombs.512 three hours513 of unrecorded interrogation over four days.Nov. seealso Zorn.34. Giarratano was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die. supranote 513. at 1.CHI. A Long Road DeferstheDeath Penalty.514and signed two police-written confession statements admitting that he raped. SeeMartin. RiveraDisorientedAfterConfession. Rivera began to hyperventilate and bang his head against the cell wall so violently that he was medicated and his arms and legs were shackled. sentenced to die in 1979. supranote 114. A WidelyWatchedDate with Death. at 1. 26.Nurse Says. at 1. Giarratano came within 24 hours of being executed.509 Giarratano has twice come within forty-eight hours of being executed. SeeHarris.. 507 This content downloaded from 146. at 485. SeeAndrew Martin.211 on Tue. 51 Eric Zorn. VirginiaInmate'sPlea for Clemency DrawsNational Attention. Feb.WASH. supra note 514.

at 185. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . at 139-40. supra note 114. CHI. 19..518 The veracity of Rivera's confession was further undermined by the fact that he was wearing an electronic leg monitor that showed he was at home the night of the crime.CHI.DefenseSays.522 fingerprints523 or hairs.. No Death Penaltyfor Baby-Sitter's Killer. 23.SUN-TIMES. This content downloaded from 146. 525 Philip Franchine. it would have been difficult. 21. supra 519 SeeAndrew Martin & Robert Enstad.520 DNA tests of more than a dozen items from the crime scene failed to match Rivera's blood. 527 SeePeople v. a jury convicted Rivera of first-degree murder.FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 491 into written confessions to demonstrate that the suspect reviewed the statement before signing it. $3 Million Bond Set in MurderRetrial.TRIB. at 8. supra note 113. at 12. at 12. 528 Dennis O'Brien.527 However.34. TRIB.CHI. App.supra note 2. at 1. 521 Brandon & Martin. Man Sentencedto Life in Baby-Sitter Murder. 524 Sharon Cotliar. Nov. 1993. 520 SeeMartin & Parsons.Feb. Baby-Sitter MurderCaseHinges on Confessions. at 6.CHI.524Nevertheless. 22. at 1. Kassin & Wrightsman..SUN-TIMES. Nov. 1993. TRIB. at 1.111.517 However. for Rivera to have actually detected these errors since he reads at a third grade level. 16. 522 Id. 2-94-0075 (Ill.. RiveraMurderConfession Detailed. 1997. at 1.52' semen.211 on Tue.supra note 30.528and Lake County..5'" In November. at 3.supra note 2."5"and that none of the 350 pieces of physical evidence linked Rivera to the crime. 526 Frank Burgos. Death Penalty May Be SoughtDuring Retrial. 1993. June 26. if not impossible.Jury Had Spared Babysitter'sKiller. 18.SUN-TIMES.CHI.Feb.5" V.CHI. at 494-98. 1996). 19. Dec. CONCLUSION This article has documented that American police continue to elicit false confessions even though the era of third degree interrogation has passed.525and a judge sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Rivera ConfessionCoerced.TRIB.CHI. at 1. Prior Confessions. '30 See Kassin & Wrightsman. This study has also demonstrated with field data what Kassin and Wrightsman have established in the laboratory:530 that confession evidence substantially biases the trier of fact's evaluation of the case in favor of prosecution and 517 SeeINBAU ETAL. an Illinois Appellate Court reversed Rivera's conviction. 52 Andrew Martin. Ct. note 114. Nov.Sept. 518 Martin & Parsons. Rivera remains incarcerated. 1997. 1993. Rivera. Illinois prosecutors will likely seek the death penalty in his retrial. 1996. CoercedConfessions. No. 1993. " Andrew Buchanon.

Due to information presented in training manuals. supranote 30.211 on Tue. such as an accident This content downloaded from 146. Reid Specialized Interrogation.Jayne & Buckley.1135 (1997). false confessions lead to unjust deprivations of liberty. Influential manuals such as Crimiand PracticalAspectsof Interview nal Interrogationand Confessions34 and Interrogation535teach police to use tactics that have been shown to be coercive and to produce false confessions. SeeRichard A.. even when the defendant's uncorroborated confession was elicited by coercive methods and the other case evidence strongly supports his innocence. Shoddy police practice derives in large part from poor interrogation training.34. supra note 30.e. ZULAWSKI 5'4 contributed to many 536 One outstanding example of poor police practice-which of the false confessions discussed in this article-is the use of the accident scenario technique (also known as maximization/minimization). REV.111. they must acknowledge the reality of false confessions. supra note 4. Our analysis almost always reveals evidence of shoddy police practice and/or police criminality. The sixty false confessions described in this article dispel the myth promoted by interrogation manual authors and police trainers that the psychological interrogation methods they advocate do not cause suspects to confess to crimes they did not commit. TheDecision to ConfessFalsely. at 147. see Kassin. Nor is it to speculate about the rate of police-induced false confession or the annual number of wrongful convictions they cause. at 102-06. the opposite is true. at 66..533 In fact. Often they also result in wrongful conviction and incarceration. the important issue is no longer whether contemporary interrogation methods cause innocent suspects to confess.supra note 4.5" Such For a review. Missing theForrestfor the Trees:A Responseto Paul Cassell's"BalancedApproach"to theFalse ConfessionProblem.74 DENV."' With near certainty. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . supra note 30. Leo & Richard Ofshe. seek to understand their causes and consequences.g. supra note 30.. The Reid Technique. -5-See. For those concerned with the proper administration of justice. the important question is: How can such errorsbe prevented? If police and prosecutors wish to prevent wrongful deprivations of liberty and miscarriages of justice.' Rather.L. 88 conviction. INBAUETAL. supra note 30. supra note 30. sometimes even execution. 531 -52 INBAUETAL. at 1088-106.492 LEO& OFSHE [Vol. SeeOfshe & Leo. some police interrogators believe that it is legally permissible to offer to accept a suspect's admission to a less serious or non-existent crime. and work to implement policies that will both reduce the likelihood of eliciting false confessions and increase the likelihood of detecting them. '5" & WICKLANDER.

The blood sport attitude that often develops in high profile criminal prosecutions-"get the guilty party no matter what"sometimes causes significant harm to innocent individuals who police and prosecutors have identified as guilty solely because they were coerced or persuaded to make a false confession..1. Louis. 5See supra Part IV. In one false confession case not discussed in this paper. seeINBAUETAL.. suborning perjured testimony from snitches.111. and they fail to educate police about the social psychology. the cost of defending their innocence. at 67-127. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Forty-eight percent of the false confesor self-defense account of what happened.537 Police criminality (e. Id. Id. No. if not demonstrably. In 52% of the cases reported here. coercing false witness statements. SeeState v.34.. This content downloaded from 146. During the investigation and prosecution of every wrongful conviction documented in this article. the defendant spent nearly four and one-half years in pre-trial incarceration before the confession was suppressed and he was released.g. perjury at suppression hearings or at trial and/or obstruction of justice by withholding exculpatory evidence) often stems from ill-conceived efforts to save prosecutions that never should have commenced. 537 Leo. 92-348-C.211 on Tue. variety and distinguishing characteristics of interrogation-induced false confessions.supra note 30.FALSECONFESSIONS 1998] 493 texts also mislead interrogators into believing that a suspect's guilt can be inferred on the basis of pseudoscientific claims about the meaning of demeanor and behavior analysis. 92-303-C (Desoto County Ct. The American criminal justice system has not yet developed adequate safeguards to prevent police-induced false confessions from leading to the wrongful deprivation of liberty and conviction of the innocent.53" For these defendants. 1992). This offer gives the suspect an "out"a way to comply with the interrogator's demand for an admission of involvement in the offense while minimizing criminal liability by changing the facts of the crime. unjust and needless pre-trial deprivations of liberty. False confessions threaten the quality of criminal justice in America by inflicting significant and unnecessary harms on the innocent. supra note 10. the false confessor suffered. the safeguards built into the criminal justice system limited the false confessor's harms to pre-trial incarceration.B. at a minimum. false. seealso supra note 30 and accompanying text. police and prosecutors should have realized that the confession was almost certainly. Police Interrogation in America. and the damage to their careers and reputations. at 102-06.

1159 (Alaska 1985). and in most of these cases there was compelling. or executed. years of imprisonment on death row and in one case a wrongful execution.111. State. defense attorneys. the safeguards built into the criminal justice system failed to prevent lengthy incarceration. is contradicted by some of the case facts.539 In these prosecutions. 88 sion cases studied resulted in a miscarriage ofjustice. prosecutors. or was elicited by coercive methods or from highly suggestible individuals. especially if the confession is internally inconsistent. 541 SeeState v. See generally WILLIAMGELLER.or audio-record the entirety of their interrogations. The risk of harm caused by false confessions could be greatly reduced if police were required to video. Taping also allows third parties to resolve the courtroom "swearing contests" that arise when the suspect and the police "' SeesupraPart IV.POLICEVIDEOTAPING OF ISSUES A PRELIMINARY AND CONFESSIONS: EXAMINATION OF SUSPECTINTERROGATIONS TO THENATIONALINSTITUTEOFJUSTICE(1992).2d 587. DEP'T OFJUSTICE. Absent the uncorroborated and unreliable statement.542 The practice of recording creates an objective and exact record of the interrogation process that all parties-police. False confessions are likely to lead to unjust deprivations of liberty and miscarriages of justice because criminal justice officials and lay jurors treat confession evidence with such deference that it outweighs strong evidence of a defendant's innocence. incarcerated. a defendant has a fundamental right to have his interrogation recorded and police failure to record is considered a violation of state due process.2d 1156. evidence establishing his innocence. Scales.211 on Tue. 711 P.B.W. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .2. criminal justice officials treated these confession statements as the most probative evidence of the defendant's guilt and permitted the "I did it" statement to override evidence of his innocence.34. The existence of an exact record of the interrogation is crucial for determining the voluntariness and reliability of any confession statement. convicted.S.LEO& OFSHE 494 [Vol.U. if not overwhelming. judges. juries-can reviewat any time. charged. 542 However. In Alaska. only Alaska540and Minnesota54 require recording custodial interrogations. none of these individuals would likely have been arrested. ANDPRACTICES--REPORT This content downloaded from 146. 592 (Minn. SeeStephan v. It bears emphasizing that in none of the disputed confessions documented in this article was there any reliable evidence corroborating the defendant's confession. Seeid. Nevertheless. Presently. 1994). 518 N. many police agencies choose on their own to record interrogations in 540 felony cases.

In the usual case. The cases discussed above also illustrate the compelling need for police. Of course. In each of the recorded false confessions studied here. prosecutors. when state's attorneys demand that "I did it" statements be corroborated by the details of a suspect's post-admission narrative before undertaking a prosecu141 IN ANDCONFESSIONS: See generallyYALEKAMISAR. When police are trained to seek both independent evidence of a suspect's guilt and internal corroboration for every confession before making an arrest. whose reputability is compromised by his status as a criminal defendant.1998] FALSECONFESSIONS 495 offer conflicting testimony about what occurred during interrogation.211 on Tue. POLICEINTERROGATION ESSAYS LAWANDPOLICY (1980). the interrogator claimed that the confessor supplied information that only the perpetrator could have known-only to have the suspect subsequently proven innocent and his ignorance of the crime facts revealed.34. whether the suspect knew the facts of the crime. Confessions should be evaluated on the basis of the quality of the post-admission narratives they produce. To more accurately resolve whether the interrogator used coercion. and/or whether he was made to confess falsely.541 In many of the cases documented in this article. interrogators are sometimes falsely accused of deviant conduct. however. the police officer's testimony is treated as far more credible than the citizen's. judges and juries to carefully scrutinize and evaluate a suspect's post-admission narrative against the known facts of the crime. the account the suspect offered after saying the words "I did it" was significantly at odds with the crime facts and indicated that the suspect was ignorant of information the true perpetrator would have known. This content downloaded from 146. In disputed confession cases the discrepancies between police officers' and defendants' accounts clearly indicate that one of the parties is either lying or mistaken. however.111. and police should be trained to recognize that it is this information-not the words "I did it"-that discriminates between the innocent and the guilty. only the analysis of the suspect's post-admission narrative provides a basis for objectively assessing his personal knowledge of a crime (assuming contamination is eliminated). In investigations in which hard evidence linking a person to a crime is missing. one conclusion is inescapable: interrogationsmust be recordedin their entirety. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .

34. This content downloaded from 146.111.496 LEO ' OFSHE [Vol. and when legislators mandate the recording of interrogations in their entirety. 88 tion. when courts insist on a minimal indicia of reliability before admitting confession statements into evidence. 08 Dec 2015 18:40:00 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the damage wrought and the lives ruined by the misuse of psychological interrogation methods will be significantly reduced.211 on Tue. The sixty cases discussed in this article illustrate that when there is no independent evidence against a defendant and only a factually inaccurate confession. the risk of justice miscarrying is so great that the case should never be allowed to proceed to trial.