CLICK here for info on new 5th edition of Criminal Interrogation and Confessions
  11/8/2019Cases that demonstrate the value of electronically recording interrogations
Since 2007 we have been posting on our website in our quarterly Legal Update columns court decisions that illustrate the value of electronically recording interrogations. These cases illustrate the importance of the recordings to demonstrate the unfounded defendant claims of coercive interrogation techniques, as well as instances when the interrogator did act improperly.  We have prepared a document that highlights over 40 of these cases for your review. 

If you want to find additional cases go to www.reid.com and Search “The Value of Recording Interrogations.”

Click here for the complete document.

  11/8/2019Should Investigators Be Allowed To Lie About Evidence To A Subject During Interrogation?

The state of New York is considering legislation that would prohibit investigators from lying to a subject about evidence in the case, such as indicating to the subject during the interrogation that there is a DNA match with samples taken from the victim; that there is a witness who says that they saw the subject commit the crime; that the subject’s finger prints were found at the scene of the crime; or that an accomplice made an incriminating statement implicating the subject in the commission of the crime.  Let’s examine what the courts say about investigators lying about evidence, whether or not lying about evidence is likely to cause a false confession, and what we teach about the use of deception during an interrogation.  



Click here for the complete article

  10/15/2019John E. Reid and Associates has filed a lawsuit against Netflix
On Monday, October 14, 2019, John E. Reid and Associates filed a lawsuit against Netflix in federal court in Chicago and alleges that Netflix and others defamed Reid in the broadcast of the series, When They See Us

We have attached a copy of the complaint for your review.

  9/27/2019Legal Updates Summer 2019
The Legal Updates Spring 2019 column contains cases which address the following issues:
  • Investigator’s promises rendered the defendant’s confession involuntary (Case 1)
  • Investigator’s promises rendered the defendant’s confession involuntary (Case 2)
  • Defendant does not have to know the issue he will be questioned about to make a knowing and intelligent waiver of rights
  • Confession voluntariness and the value of recording the interrogation (Case 1)  
  • Confession voluntariness and the value of recording the interrogation (Case 2)

Click here for the updates

  9/18/2019The Reid Technique…..Here’s What’s Really Going On

The Reid Technique is the most widely used and well-known method of questioning subjects in the world because of its efficiency and built in safeguards to protect the innocent and identify the guilty.  However, because the name is so universally known, it has become attached to all interview and interrogation techniques….even those that are egregious and that we teach never to employ.


It’s like the name Kleenex. When someone asks for a tissue, even when they refer to it as a kleenex, they do not necessarily mean the brand name…..but the term kleenex has became the universal term for a tissue.  So to has the Reid name become associated with all interrogation techniques – even those that are bad.


Here is what we do teach:


Click here for the complete article

  9/16/2019Professor Alan Hirsch misrepresents the Reid Technique
It was brought to our attention that in the case Ohio v. Richardson (broadcast on Court TV) that Professor Alan Hirsch testified on behalf of the defense stating that in his opinion, the confession made by the defendant was coerced and included in his testimony a statement that the investigators used a very aggressive  version of the Reid Technique in which they promised the defendant that nothing would happen to them if they confessed.

While we do not know what was said in this interrogation - we have not see the transcript or video - we teach that investigators should never make a promise of leniency to the subject.  Professor Hirsch has repeatedly tried to claim that the Reid Technique is coercive, but as one federal judge stated, "Although Professor Hirsch insisted that “there is a wealth of information about the risks of the Reid technique,” he could point to none.” *

Here are the core principles of the Reid Technique:

    Do not make any promises of leniency 
    Do not threaten the subject with any physical harm or inevitable consequences 
    Do not conduct interrogations for an excessively lengthy period of time 
    Do not deny the subject any of their rights 
    Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs 
   Withhold information about the details of the crime from the subject so that if the subject confesses the disclosure of that information can be used to confirm the authenticity of the statement 
    Exercise special cautions when questioning juveniles or individuals with mental or psychological impairments 
    Always treat the subject with dignity and respect
   The confession is not the end of the investigation – investigate the confession details in an effort to establish the authenticity of the subject’s statement

* US v. Jacques (784 F.Supp.2d 59)  Here is a more complete statement from the Judge re Alan Hirsch: 

“In his declaration and at the hearing, Professor Hirsch explained that the primary cause of “coerced compliant” confessions are certain interrogation methods employed by law enforcement, including a widely used method known as the Reid technique….Beyond his own intuition, however, Professor Hirsch offered no basis for concluding that these tactics had any tendency necessarily to cause false, rather than true, confessions.

... Professor Hirsch's declaration offered no other evidence of the danger of certain police interrogation tactics, and the Reid technique in particular, except to say that “the use of these tactics [employed in the Reid technique] and their correlation with false confessions are extensively documented in the literature....Despite this broad statement, he did not provide any further explanation…”

In sum, the proffered expert testimony to the effect that the Reid technique enhanced the risk of an unreliable confession lacked any objective basis for support whatever. Although Professor Hirsch insisted that “there is a wealth of information about the risks of the Reid technique,” he could point to none.”



  9/6/2019This entry is for reporters doing a story that includes a reference to or discussion about the Reid Technique

Here are a few links to articles or postings from this What’s New page that you may find to be of some interest and value if you will be writing an article on the issue of interrogation and The Reid Technique:

  • What questions should be asked to determine the voluntariness and validity of a subject’s confession?   See entry 8/27/2019
  • Don’t Be Fooled –They use the core elements of the Reid Technique
  • Development of THE REID TECHNIQUE®
  • Modifying Techniques When Questioning Juveniles and Individuals with Mental or Psychological Disabilities - See 6/28/2019 entry
  • If they had followed the core principles of the Reid Technique these false confessions would not have occurred  - See 6/27/2019 entry
  • Netflix Defames Reid - See 6/19/2019 entry
  • References to John E. Reid and Associates in Making a Murderer Part 2  - See 11/05/2018 entry
  • Reid and the Innocence Project  - See 3/29/2018 entry
  • Clarifying Misrepresentations about Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques  - See 1/26/2018 entry
  •  “There’s a lot of gold in the Reid interrogation manual and on reid.com and we really really encourage you guys to go up there and cite that material” - See 6/05/2017 entry
  • The development of then-cnfrontational interview - See 5/18/2017 entry
  • How the courts view the Reid Technique   - See 1/25/2017 entry and recent entry dated 8/20/2019
  • International research validates the core principles of the Reid Technique - See 5/11/2015 entry


  8/27/2019September/October 2019 Investigator Tip

What questions should be asked to determine the voluntariness and validity of a subject’s confession?

While there are numerous issues to consider in the process of evaluating the voluntariness and validity of a subject’s confession, the following questions may be helpful in making such an assessment. 



Click here for the Investigator Tip

  8/21/2019How the Courts View Interview and Interrogation Techniques

On a quarterly basis we publish on our website Legal Updates, providing our clients and readers with the latest in court decisions on a variety of interrogation and confession issues.  In this article we will highlight some of those recent decisions regarding: 

  • Minimization
  • Misrepresenting evidence to a subject
  • Improper interrogation techniques
  • The value of recording interrogations 

Click here.

  7/24/2019Don’t Be Fooled – They use the core elements of the Reid Technique

The Reid Technique is the foundation for many training programs on effective interviewing and interrogation techniques.  Regardless of what some may claim, an independent audit of their course content will confirm the use the core elements of the Reid Technique.  We will provide you with an illustration in this article.  



Click here

  7/23/2019Development of THE REID TECHNIQUE®

THE REID TECHNIQUE® has evolved extensively over the years to become the most current and up to date training program available on investigative interviewing and interrogation techniques, continually monitoring legal decisions and interrogation research.  Here is a brief overview of the development of THE REID TECHNIQUE over the last 72 years. 


Click here

  7/01/2019Legal Updates Spring 2019
The Legal Updates Spring 2019 column contains cases which address the following issues:

  • Court details acceptable interrogation statements
  • Vermont Supreme Court upholds confession obtained after false claim of DNA evidence
  • False evidence statements about fingerprints and witnesses were not coercive
  • Value of video recording; MA Supreme Court finds misrepresenting evidence and minimization were not coercive
  • Court decision rejects the testimony of false confession expert Dr. Richard Ofshe
  • Officer's misrepresentations of the law coupled with constant misrepresentations regarding appellant's position deemed confession involuntary

Click here for the updates

  6/28/2019Modifying Techniques When Questioning Juveniles and Individuals with Mental or Psychological Disabilities
In our training program we highlight the importance on exercising caution when questioning a juvenile or mentally impaired person.  As an example see pages 19-21 in this article, Clarifying Misrepresentations About Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques.  

According to The National Registry of Exonerations, a very high percentage of false confessions come from mentally impaired individuals.  From their website:

All sorts of people falsely confess, but two groups are particularly vulnerable: young suspects and those with mental disabilities.

mental illness or disability.jpg 

 Source: National Registry of Exonerations
 

In 1983, for example, Earl Washington, a 22-year-old black man with an IQ of about 69, was arrested in Culpeper, Virginia, for burglary and malicious wounding. Over two days of questioning, Washington “confessed” to five separate crimes, four of which were not pursued because his confessions did not match the actual crimes and the victims could not identify Washington as the criminal.

Washington’s fifth confession, however, was to a murder, that of Rebecca Lynn Williams. His initial version—before police officers cleaned it up—was riddled with errors. He did not know the race of the victim (white), the address where she was killed, or that she was raped. Nonetheless, Washington was convicted and sentenced to death in January 1984. He was exonerated by DNA 16 years later, in 2000.  (We testified on behalf of Washington for the Innocence Project)

Overall, of exonerees with reported mental illness or intellectual disability, 72 percent had confessed.


percent confession age.jpg 
Source: National Registry of Exonerations
 

Young suspects fared almost as badly. Forty percent of exonerees who were under 18 at the time of the crime falsely confessed, including 53 percent of 14- and 15-year olds, and 86 percent of the few who were 13 years old or younger. By comparison, only 7 percent of adult exonerees without reported mental disabilities falsely confessed. 



  6/27/2019If they had followed the core principles of the Reid Technique these false confessions would not have occurred

In an article published in Science, titled, This psychologist explains why people confess to crimes they didn’t commit, Professor Saul Kassin, a psychologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, discusses the issue of false confessions – these are the cases that he references re false confessions and the interrogation tactics that he describes for each case:


Huwe Burton – “after hours of being threatened”


Amanda Knox – “was coerced into confessing the murder of her roommate” [she was interrogated by police in Italy]


John Kogurt – “after an 18 hour interrogation”


Barry Laughman – “a man with a capacity of a ten year old after police falsely told him they found his fingerprints at the scene”


Central Park Five (jogger case) – “after [42*] hours of interrogation”


* in the Netflix series about the Central Park Five one of the investigators describes the interrogation of the 5 juveniles as follows: “You squeezed statements out of them, after 42 hours of questioning and coerciveness without food, bathroom breaks, withholding parental supervision…”


It is interesting to note that in each of these cases if the core principles of the Reid Technique had been followed, false confessions would not have occurred. 

The best way to avoid false confessions is to conduct interrogations in accordance with the guidelines established by the courts, and to adhere to the following practices:

  • Do not make any promises of leniency 

  • Do not threaten the subject with any physical harm or inevitable consequences 

  • Do not conduct interrogations for an excessively lengthy period of time 

  • Do not deny the subject any of their rights 

  • Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs 

  • Withhold information about the details of the crime from the subject so that if the subject confesses the disclosure of that information can be used to confirm the authenticity of the statement 

  • Exercise special cautions when questioning juveniles or individuals with mental or psychological impairments 

  • Always treat the subject with dignity and respect

  • The confession is not the end of the investigation – investigate the confession details in an effort to establish the authenticity of the subject’s statement 

We have published in our books and in our training manuals that the use of deception (as described in the Barry Laughman case referenced above)  “should be avoided when interrogating a youthful suspect with low social maturity or a suspect with diminished mental capacity. These suspects may not have the fortitude or confidence to challenge such evidence and, depending on the nature of the crime, may become confused as to their own possible involvement if the police tell them evidence clearly indicates they committed the crime.”


In fact, in the case People v. Elias (2015) the Appeals court pointed out several prescribed Reid procedures that were not followed by the investigator, resulting in a confession that was found to be involuntary – these procedures that were not followed included: 

  1. A non-accusatory interview was not conducted before initiating an interrogation

  2. The investigator misrepresented the case evidence when questioning a 13 year old

  3. There was no corroboration of the incriminating statement

  4. There was contamination - disclosing details of the crime 

The Reid core principles should be adopted by every investigator to ensure that proper procedures are being followed and to minimize the possibility of a false confession.


For additional information see Clarifying Misrepresentations About Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques




  6/19/2019Netflix Defames Reid


In the Netflix 4 part series  “When They See Us,” the creators attempt to re-create the story of the Central Park Jogger case, in which 5 juveniles were alleged to have falsely confessed to the assault of a female jogger in Central Park.  In the series there is no actual footage of the interviews or interrogations of these suspects, but rather they recreate the interrogations as they think they happened.  They have actors playing the roles of the various characters, including the investigators. 


In episode 4 there is a specific reference to the Reid Technique - here is the statement:


An investigator is speaking to one of the investigators who obtained one of the confessions, stating to him:  “You squeezed statements out of them, after 42 hours of questioning and coerciveness without food, bathroom breaks, withholding parental supervision, the Reid Technique has been universally rejected.  That’s truth to you.”


Inv:  “I don’t know what the f------- Reid Technique is…I know what I was taught, I know what I was asked to do.” 


The very clear and obvious idea that the creators are making is that the Reid Technique is coercive and teaches investigators to conduct excessively long interrogations, to deny subjects the opportunity to use the washroom or to get something to eat or drink, and to deny subjects their rights.  


Nothing could be further from the truth, and Netflix knows this.


In the Netflix series, “Making a Murder Part 2”, the interrogation of Brendan Dassey is discussed by Attorney Steve Drizen and Attorney Lauara Nirider during the first 15 minutes of Episode 2.  (Attorneys Drizin and Nirider represent Dassey in his appeals). 


The two attorneys are shown on screen giving a presentation to lawyers at Northwestern University Law School, discussing the Brendan Dassey interrogation.  During their presentation they reference John E. Reid and Associates as the benchmark for proper interrogation practices and procedures.  Specifically, they state that Reid and Associates teaches that using deception or false evidence “should be avoided when interrogating a youthful suspect with low social maturity or a suspect with diminished mental capacity.” 


They then again refer to Reid and Associates as teaching that investigators should not reveal all of the case information to the subject during the interrogation so that the investigator can use the disclosure of that information by the subject as an indication of the authenticity of his confession. 


The suggestion by Netflix, or anyone else that the Reid Technique is in any way coercive or “has been universally rejected” is baseless.  As one federal court has stated, “In sum, the proffered expert testimony to the effect that the Reid technique enhanced the risk of an unreliable confession lacked any objective basis for support whatever.” U.S. v. Jacques


The following are the core principles of the Reid Technique, consistent with the Innocence Project (which has hired our services to assist them in several cases):


  • Do not make any promises of leniency

  • Do not threaten the subject with any physical harm or inevitable consequences

  • Do not conduct interrogations for an excessively lengthy period of time

  • Do not deny the subject any of their rights

  • Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs

  • Withhold information about the details of the crime from the subject so that if the subject confesses the disclosure of that information can be used to confirm the authenticity of the statement

  • Exercise special cautions when questioning juveniles or individuals with mental or psychological impairments

  • Always treat the subject with dignity and respect

  • The confession is not the end of the investigation – investigate the confession details in an effort to establish the authenticity of the subject’s statement

For additional information see Clarifying Misrepresentations of Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques



  6/1/2019Legal Updates Winter 2019
The Legal Updates Winter 2019 column contains cases which address the following issues:
  • Court upholds minimization techniques and suggesting justifications for the crime
  • Court rejects defendant’s claim that his confession should have been suppressed because the investigators statements “improperly induced hope that his confession would benefit him”
  • What interrogation techniques are “coercive and deceptive?”
  • Vermont Supreme Court describes elements of a non-custodial interview and elements to consider in evaluating coercion

Click here for the updates

  3/22/2019Canadian Reporters Still Can’t Get it Right

In two recent articles Canadian reporters continue to misrepresent/misunderstand the Reid Technique.  Here are the two letter we wrote to the reporters attempting to clarify the issues:

Dear Ms. Jerome,

I would like to point out a number of issues that you neglected to mention in your article, Interrogation tactics, errors in justice system lead to false confessions, lawyers say.

Our firm, John E. Reid and Associates, developed and teaches the Reid Technique around the world. In your article you state the following:

The interrogation practice Drizin described [ when discussing the interrogation of Brendon Dassey in the Netflix series Making a Murderer] is called the Reid technique, Haines noted, adding that the RCMP have started using the PEACE model instead. PEACE stands for: Preparation and Planning; Engage and Explain; Account, Clarify and Challenge; Closure and Evaluation.

Kennedy explained that Canadian courts have said to stop using the Reid technique and that the PEACE model comes out of the U.K.

“I think what the RCMP have moved to is a modified form of the PEACE technique,” he added. 

1.It is interesting to note that in Making a Murderer Part 2 Attorney Drizin references Reid and Associates as the standard for proper interrogation procedures: 

"In the Netflix series, Making a Murder Part 2, the interrogation of Brendan Dassey is discussed by Attorney Steve Drizen and Attorney Lauara Nirider during the first 15 minutes of Episode 2.  (Attorneys Drizin and Nirider represent Dassey in his appeals). 

The two attorneys are shown on screen giving a presentation to lawyers at Northwestern University Law School, discussing the Brendan Dassey interrogation.  During their presentation they reference John E. Reid and Associates as the benchmark for proper interrogation practices and procedures.  Specifically, they state that Reid and Associates teaches that using deception or false evidence “should be avoided when interrogating a youthful suspect with low social maturity or a suspect with diminished mental capacity.” 

They then again refer to Reid and Associates as teaching that investigators should not reveal all of the case information to the subject during the interrogation so that the investigator can use the disclosure of that information by the subject as an indication of the authenticity of his confession. 

2.For the record, the Canada Supreme Court has upheld the central element of the Reid Technique in the case R. v. Oickle. In this case the Canadian Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s suppression of an arson confession and expressed implicit approval of many of the interrogation techniques utilized in The Reid Technique. In Oickle, the Court of Appeals suggested that the interrogator's understanding demeanor improperly abused the suspect's trust. The Canadian Supreme Court disagreed stating,  "In essence, the court [of appeals] criticizes the police for questioning the respondent in such a gentle, reassuring manner that they gained his trust. This does not render a confession inadmissible. To hold otherwise would send the perverse message to police that they should engage in adversarial, aggressive questioning to ensure they never gain the suspect's trust, lest an ensuing confession be excluded."

Furthermore, in Oickle, the Court of Appeals concluded that the police improperly offered leniency to the suspect by minimizing the seriousness of his offense. The Supreme Court again disagreed stating,  "Insofar as the police simply downplayed the moral culpability of the offence, their actions were not problematic." 

3.We teach the P.E.A.C.E. Method:  In 2019 we will be presenting 2 courses in Canada entitled, Reid PEACE Method of Investigative Interviewing, in Niagara Falls and Calgary.

4.We are as concerned about false confessions as anyone.  Over the years John E. Reid and Associates has assisted the Innocence Project (New York) on several cases as expert witnesses on proper interview and interrogation techniques, as well as the exoneration of one of their clients by obtaining a confession from the actual offender.  This case was detailed in the story, “I Did It” in New York magazine (http://www.reid.com/pdfs/ididit.pdf).   We have also assisted other attorneys (for example, Kathleen Zellner) in wrongful conviction cases.

5.The best way to avoid false confessions is to conduct interrogations in accordance with the guidelines established by the courts, and to adhere to the following practices (core principles of the Reid Technique):

    Do not make any promises of leniency 

    Do not threaten the subject with any physical harm or inevitable consequences 

    Do not conduct interrogations for an excessively lengthy period of time 

    Do not deny the subject any of their rights 

    Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs 

   Withhold information about the details of the crime from the subject so that if the subject confesses the disclosure of that information can be used to confirm the authenticity of the statement 

    Exercise special cautions when questioning juveniles or individuals with mental or psychological impairments 

    Always treat the subject with dignity and respect

   The confession is not the end of the investigation – investigate the confession details in an effort to establish the authenticity of the subject’s statement 

 In the future, when you are doing a story referencing the Reid Technique, you should contact us for our comments on the issues you are discussing so as to present a balanced story.

Finally, please review the details in the document that we have prepared that is entitled, Clarifying Misrepresentations About Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques.  

Joseph P. Buckley
President
John E. Reid and Associates
800-255-5747 



Dear Mr. Rose,

I just read your article, How Canadian Police Try To Get You to Confess to a Crime.  I would like to point a few salient facts and would ask that you forward this email and attachments to Sgt. Carr.

Here are some statements in your article and our response:

1.“…widely used Reid technique of interrogation, which is prone to deception, unconstitutional coercion, and, in many cases, false confessions…”

There is absolutely nothing coercive about the Reid technique.  Here are our core principles:

  • Always conduct interviews and interrogations in accordance with the guidelines established by the courts
  • Do not make any promises of leniency 
  • Do not threaten the subject with any physical harm or inevitable consequences
  • Do not deny the subject any of their rights
  • Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs
  • Always treat the subject with dignity and respect 

False confessions are not caused by the Reid technique, but by investigators engaging in behaviors outside of the parameters established by the courts such as threatening inevitable consequences; making a promise of leniency in return for the confession; denying a subject their rights; conducting an excessively long interrogation; denying the suspect an opportunity to satisfy their physical needs, etc.

In the United States our Supreme Court has allowed investigators to verbally misrepresent evidence to the subject.  However, we urge extreme caution in doing so.  From our training materials:

1.     Introducing fictitious evidence during an interrogation presents a risk that the guilty suspect may detect the investigator’s bluff, resulting in a significant loss of credibility and sincerity. For this reason, we recommend that this tactic be used as a last resort effort.

2.     This tactic should not be used for the suspect who acknowledges that he may have committed the crime even though he has no specific recollections of doing so. Under this circumstance, the introduction of such evidence may lead to claims that the investigator was attempting to convince the suspect that he, in fact, did commit the crime.

3.   This technique should be avoided when interrogating a youthful suspect with low social maturity or a suspect with diminished mental capacity. These suspects may not have the fortitude or confidence to challenge such evidence and, depending on the nature of the crime, may become confused as to their own possible involvement if the police tell them evidence clearly indicates they committed the crime.

2."…the RCMP has implemented a more conversational style based on the UK’s PEACE (Preparation and Planning, Engage and Explain, Account, Closure and Evaluate) model”

We teach the P.E.A.C.E. Method - Click here for a flyer describing the content of our course.  We have two courses scheduled in Canada this year: April 16-17, 2019 in Niagara Falls, Ontario and October 8-9, 2019 in Calgary.

3. Sure, Darren. What is the goal of an interrogation?

To learn the truth.

It’s not about incriminating someone?
That’s the problem with the old Reid model. It’s very guilt presumptive.

Contrary to Sgt. Carr’s description, the Reid Technique always begins with a non-accusatory investigative interview. From our training materials:

The Reid Technique is oftentimes just thought of and is frequently referred to as simply an interrogation process - it is much more than that. The Reid Technique is a structured interview and interrogation process that involves three primary stages: Fact Analysis, the Investigative Interview and, when appropriate, the Interrogation.

Fact Analysis

Factual analysis consists of reviewing the case facts and evidence in an effort to identify the potential scope of suspects, the probability of the offender’s characteristics, and what their possible motive may have been.

As part of the investigator’s review and analysis of the case facts and evidence, they should identify what specific details about the crime they can use to corroborate any confession that is made in the case. There are two types of corroborating evidence – dependent, which refers to details about the case that the police know but choose to “hold back” - to conceal from the media and the suspects that they question so they can be used to assess the credibility of a subject’s confession. These details may include how the victim was killed; how and where entry was made into the building; where the accelerant was poured, etc.

The second type of corroborating evidence is referred to as independent – this refers to details of the crime that only the offender knows – details that the police do not have; such as where the murder weapon is located; how and where the subject disposed of their bloody clothes; the location of the stolen property; etc.

In the process of analyzing the case facts and evidence the investigator should develop a description of the of the crime scene; the way in which the crime appears to have been committed and the known details of its commission, i.e., implement used, place of entry or exit, any special knowledge required (such as a safe combination); and, the presence of any incriminating factors against a particular subject; etc.

Once the investigator has reviewed and analyzed the case facts and evidence, they should prepare an interview strategy, including a list of issues that should be discussed with each subject, and a list of possible questions that need to be asked of each subject, including the victim, any witnesses and any suspects.

The Investigative Interview

At the outset of the interview the investigator must be sure to comply with all legal requirements, such as the appropriate advisement of rights. It is imperative that throughout the interview, the investigator maintains an objective, neutral, fact-finding demeanor.

The investigative questions will deal with the issue that is under investigation. One of the first things the investigator should do is ask the subject an open-ended question that invites the subject to tell their story. If it is a victim, what happened? If it is a witness, what did they see or hear? If it is a suspect, what were their activities on the day in question? After the subject relates their initial story or version of events the investigator will then ask a series of questions to develop additional details and to clarify the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the incident under investigation.

During this segment of the interview the investigator would explore for any precipitators that may have provoked the incident, or for any procedural or policy violations that may have contributed to the situation. The investigator should attempt to resolve any inconsistencies or contradictions that may have surfaced from the interviews of other subjects or from the investigative information. If the subject offers an alibi for the time period in question, every effort should be made to substantiate the alibi.

In our book, Criminal Interrogation and Confessions, 5th edition 2013, we devote several chapters to the topic of Investigative Questions.

The third type of question that we utilize in the interview is called a behavior-provoking question (BPQ). BPQs are questions which most truthful individuals answer one way, while deceptive individuals oftentimes answer in a completely different manner. The investigator will present these questions as casual inquiries.

At the conclusion of this non-accusatory interview the investigator will evaluate the investigative and behavioral information developed during the interview, as well as the information, facts and evidence developed during the investigation up to this point, and then make one of several possible decisions: the investigator may eliminate the subject from further investigation; the investigator may determine that the investigation of the subject should continue; or the investigator may decide to initiate the interrogation of the subject. Everyone in an investigation may be interviewed, but very few are interrogated.

The purpose of an interrogation is to learn the truth.  In most instances this consists of the guilty suspect telling the investigator what he did regarding the commission of the crime under investigation.  The obvious reason for this outcome is that interrogation should only occur when the investigative information indicates the suspect’s probable involvement in the commission of the crime. 

However, there can be several other successful outcomes: 

 ·      the suspect may reveal the fact that he did not commit the crime but that he knows (and has been concealing) who did

·      the suspect may reveal that while he did not commit the crime he was lying about some important element of the investigation (such as his alibi – not wanting to acknowledge where he really was at the time of the crime), or

·    the investigator determines the suspect to be innocent 

We recommend that investigators should never use the interrogation process as the initial means by which to assess a subject’s credibility – in other words, we recommend that after the initial non-accusatory investigative interview and the collection of evidence only those subjects should be interrogated whom the investigative information suggests are most probably involved in the commission of the crime.

For additional information se our document entitled, Clarifying Misrepresentations About Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques.

In the future when you write an article that discusses the Reid Technique you should be sure to talk to us so you get a full understanding of the issues.


Joseph P. Buckley
President
John E. Reid and Associates

800-255-5747 ext 19


  2/13/2019An example of how Dr. Richard Leo testifies about the interrogation process
In the case US v. Hyatt (January 2019) the US District Court, E.D. California, included the following description of the testimony of Dr. Richard Leo.

"Leo is a professor of law and psychology at the University of San Francisco…. He has testified as an expert on the subjects of police interrogation, psychological coercion, and false confessions well over three hundred times…. His testimony was admitted as expert testimony on those subjects in this case…. On cross-examination, Leo agreed that in a few cases his testimony was not permitted by the court…. In 2008 a Michigan court found his methodology unreliable….


Leo distinguished interviews, which involve open-ended questions, from interrogations, which are typically accusatory…. Interrogations are “guilt presumptive” because they are “typically preceded by an investigation in which the police or agents conclude that a person committed the crime.” …..  Police then interrogate that person with the goal of obtaining a confession….  A typical method of doing so involves isolating the suspect, building rapport with the suspect, and then accusing and confronting the suspect……


Leo testified that an interrogation becomes psychologically coercive when the suspect perceives that he has “no meaningful choice but to do what they are being pressured and persuaded or demanded to do.” …..  Interrogators employ various psychological techniques.


They include:

• Falsely informing a suspect that the interrogators have evidence linking them to the crime, to encourage admissions….  Leo testified that false evidence ploys are often a “real problem in false confession cases.” ….. 

• Providing inducements to persuade a suspect that it is in their best interest to stop denying….  Inducements can also appeal to morality or conscience…. 

• Minimizing the suspect's involvement to make the suspect think that if they confess, the consequences will be minimal….. 

• Maximizing the potential consequences as a threat for continuing to deny involvement and not cooperating….. 


A suspect's cognitive and intellectual deficits and personality traits can make them more vulnerable to psychological coercion….. 


Leo testified that interrogations can also be problematic when the interrogator discloses non-public details about the crime, which are later repeated back by the suspect demonstrating guilt….. 


Leo also testified that the videotaped confession shows Hayat was fatigued and sleep-deprived…..  Leo testified that Hayat's requests to see his father and go home, which were effectively denied, demonstrate a problem in false confessions that the suspect “understands that the only way to put an end to the interrogation or to go home is to say what the interrogator is looking for.” …..


Leo next considered frequent statements made to Hayat that if he cooperated, interrogators should be able to help him and “things are going to be a lot better for you.” ….  An interrogator also told Hayat, “If I'm gonna make an argument for you, who I, I think is not an important part in this.... I need you to tell me details about targets.... And, this is where I need your memory to come back.”….  Leo testified that these statements show an attempt by interrogators to suggest that there is a quid pro quo in exchange for confession. 

Asking Hayat whether he may have gone to a jihadist training camp thinking that he was actually going to a religious education camp is an example of the minimization risk factor…..  Interrogators attempted to have Hayat admit he attended a camp by suggesting that Hayat's intentions in going to a camp might be considered.


In summary, Leo testified that the following risk factors for false confessions were present in the recorded portion of Hayat's interrogation: a false evidence ploy, inducements with the suggestion of benefits for cooperation, sleep deprivation, and the lengthy interrogation. 

For a white paper we prepared which addresses many of the criticisms and mischaracterizations of law enforcement interrogation techniques, click here.


  2/6/2019Court upholds investigators using minimization techniques and suggesting justifications for the crime

In Gomez v. California (January 2019) the US District Court, E.D. California, upheld the lower court’s decision to admit the incriminating statements made by the defendant who was convicted of twelve counts of committing forcible lewd acts upon a child under fourteen years old.  In reviewing the admissibility of the defendant’s confession, the District Court stated that no single factor is dispositive in evaluating the voluntariness of a statement, and whether the confession is voluntary depends on the totality of circumstance.  Fromm the District Court’s opinion: 

Relevant considerations concerning whether an interrogation is coercive include the length of the interrogation, its location, and its continuity, as well as the defendant's maturity, education, physical condition, and mental health.  In assessing police tactics that are allegedly coercive, courts have only prohibited those psychological ploys which are so coercive they tend to produce a statement that is both involuntary and unreliable under all of the circumstances.  Investigators are permitted to ask tough questions, exchange information, summarize evidence, outline theories, confront, contradict, and even debate with a suspect… They may accuse the suspect of lying … and urge him or her to tell the truth.  Investigators can suggest the defendant may not have been the actual perpetrator, or may not have intended a murder victim to die. They can suggest possible explanations of events and offer a defendant the opportunity to provide details of the crime. Absent improper threats or promises, there is no constitutional principle forbidding the suggestion by authorities that it is worse for a defendant to lie in the presence of overwhelming and incriminating evidence...Deception does not undermine the voluntariness of a defendant's statements to investigators unless it is of a type reasonably likely to procure an untrue statement. 

A confession is not invalidated simply because the possibility of a death sentence was discussed beforehand, but only where the confession results directly from the threat such punishment will be imposed if the suspect is uncooperative—coupled with a promise of leniency in exchange for cooperation. Suggestions by investigators that killings may have been accidental or resulted from a fit of rage during a drunken blackout fall far short of promises of lenient treatment in exchange for cooperation. This is especially the case where detectives did not represent that the prosecutor or court would grant the defendant any particular benefit if he told them how the killings occurred. 

Defendant's minimization argument fails to convince us the detectives interrogated him by improper coercive means. The detectives presented defendant with justifications for his crime, suggesting A.C. may have consented in the conduct. The detectives told him several times he was lying and asked him to tell the truth. The detectives speculated about the facts of the case and suggested defendant was in love with A.C., that they were in a relationship, and even that she may have initiated some sexual contact. A technique allowing the defendant to share the blame with the victim is permissible and does not render a confession the product of undue psychological coercion… The questions and hypotheticals posed did not imply defendant was innocent or suggest there would be no criminal charges against him. The detectives conducted permissible questioning. Neither detective made an improper promise or threat to defendant… The “minimization” by detectives of defendant's conduct included no promise of leniency from the prosecutor or the trial court.

The minimization used by the detectives was not employed to suggest to defendant he was innocent of any crime, and there was no mention of leniency. No threats were employed by the detectives to coerce defendant. After Skrinde suggested defendant and A.C. were in a relationship, Garcia stated this could change everything. But rather than implying defendant's innocence, Garcia immediately suggested defendant forced A.C. to have anal sex. This interrogation technique did not minimize defendant's culpability. Defendant initially denied the detectives' suggestion that he had a relationship with A.C. Later, defendant admitted molesting A.C. but denied using force. In summary, defendant has not demonstrated his interrogators used impermissible coercive techniques that overborne his will. Defendant cooperated with the detectives and his conduct was voluntary. 


Click here for the complete decision.

  1/31/2019An Example of what Dr. Richard Leo says when he testifies on the issue of false confessions

In People v. Lucero (January 2019) the court summarized the testimony of Dr. Richard Leo on the issue of false confessions as follows:

“Richard Leo, a professor of law and psychology at the University of San Francisco, testified as an expert witness on false confessions. Leo explained that the “goal of police interrogation is to get an incriminating statement, ideally a narrative confession from a criminal suspect whom the police officers believe is guilty in order to build a case against them.” “[T]he assumption is people aren’t going to [confess] unless you put pressure on them and use [specialized] psychological accusatory techniques.” The interrogation process is “designed for guilty people” and interrogations are “fundamentally accusatory.” Therefore, “when innocent people are mistakenly interrogated, sometimes they will make or agree to false confessions.” “There are a number of techniques and a number of personality traits that increase the risk of why somebody would falsely confess, and the explanations are typically based both on the person’s individual make up as well as the techniques that are used during interrogation.” When an interrogation is prolonged, it “usually makes people feel desperate, hopeless, wanting to escape, for them, what is a high-pressure environment.” Most false confessions are the product of “longer interrogations.” “Although [interrogations are] not designed to psychologically coerce” people, “that’s the effect nonetheless.” Leo testified that hundreds of cases of false confessions have been documented and the law enforcement community is cognizant of, and acknowledges, the phenomenon of false confessions. However, false confessions remain the exception.” 

For detailed information about law enforcement interrogation techniques and the suggestion that they can cause false confessions, see  “Clarifying Misrepresentations About Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques” – click here.



Click Here to view earlier "What's New"