CLICK here for info on new 5th edition of Criminal Interrogation and Confessions
  11/18/2015Why Training with John E. Reid & Associates is so Valuable!
Mark Holloway, developer of Thin Blue Training interviewed our Vice President, Lou Senese regarding interviewing and interrogation training and why it is so important.

To listen to the podcast click here and choose TBT:4 Interview and Interrogation with John E. Reid and Associates.

Click Here to Listen to PODCAST!

  11/11/2015Court admonishes investigator for not following Reid guidelines
In this case 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:

  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

In People v. Elias (June 2015) Court of Appeal, First District, Division 2, California the court concluded that "the prosecution failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Elias's inculpatory statements were voluntary, and the trial court therefore erred in receiving the statements in evidence." In this case a 13 year old had made incriminating statements about sexually touching a child under the age of 14.

The interrogation of the defendant took place in an office in the elementary school building; lasted about 20 to 30 minutes; and, concluded when the investigator "suggested Elias might have touched A.T.'s vagina because he found it exciting or just because he was curious, Elias rejected the first suggestion and, to [the investigator's] comment, "[b]ut you did it," said, "[f]or curiosity." Elias thus accepted [the investigator's] alternative theory that he touched the bare skin of A.T.'s vagina for three to four seconds, in the midst of playing a video game with her brother, merely "out of curiosity."

In reviewing the questioning of the defendant the Appeals Court pointed out several times that the investigator did not follow the guidelines for proper interview and interrogation procedures outlined our book, Criminal Interrogations and Confessions.

In their opinion, the Appeals Court stated that "no evidence corroborated his incriminating statements." In their discussion of the issue of corroboration the court stated:

"The best form of corroboration is the suspect's revelation of information only a guilty suspect would know. (Inbau et al., Criminal Interrogation, supra, at pp. 354-356.) Thus "[t]he admissions, 'I shot and killed Mr. Johnson' or 'I forced Susie Adams to have sex with me' may be elicited from a juvenile (or adult) suspect. These admissions become useful as evidence if they are corroborated by (1) information about the crime the suspect provides which was purposefully withheld from the suspect, and/or, (2) information not known by the police until after the confession which is subsequently verified." (Id. at p. 255.) Corroboration is "[t]he ultimate test of the trustworthiness of a confession." (Ibid.)"

The court went on to state later in their opinion that "One of the ways police facilitate false confessions is by disclosing specific facts regarding the crime during the interrogation process, inducing the suspect to adopt these facts and thus accurately "confirm[ ] the preconceived story the police seek to have him describe."... The use of this suggestive technique--referred to as "contamination" has been found to be coercive and to have overcome the will of subjects, particularly those who are young or otherwise vulnerable. From the court's opinion:

"As one of the authors of Criminal Interrogation has said, "[I]t is imperative that interrogators do not reveal details of the crime so that they can use the disclosure of such information by the suspect as verification of the confession's authenticity. In each case there should be documented 'hold back' information about the details of how the crime was committed; details from the crime scene; details about specific activities perpetrated by the offender; etc. The goal is to match the suspect's confession against these details to establish the veracity of the statement." (Combating Contamination, at pp. 847-848, quoting Joseph P. Buckley, The Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation, in Tom Williamson ed., Investigative Interviewing: Rights, Research, Regulation 190, 204-05 (Willan 2005).)"

In discussing the investigator's use of deception during the interrogation (misrepresenting the evidence) and the fact that such a practice is inappropriate for this juvenile, the court quotes from Criminal Interrogation and Confessions:

"The authors of the text expounding the Reid Technique candidly admit that "[m]any of the interrogation techniques presented in this text involve duplicity and pretense. To persuade a guilty suspect to offer an admission against self-interest, the investigator may have to falsely exaggerate confidence in the suspect's guilt, sympathize with the suspect's situation, and display feelings toward the suspect or his crime that are far from genuine. The investigator may suggest a face-saving motive for the commission of the crime, knowing it is not true. In some cases an investigator may falsely imply, or outright state, that evidence exists that links the suspect to the crime." (Inbau et al., Criminal Interrogation, supra, at p. 351.) But, as we have said, the text makes it eminently clear that such deceptive techniques "should be avoided when interrogating a youthful suspect with low social maturity " because such suspects "may not have the fortitude or confidence to challenge such evidence" and "may become confused as to their own possible involvement, if the police tell them evidence clearly indicates they committed the crime." (Id. at p. 352, italics [emphasis] added.)

Later in their opinion the court points out that the investigator violated "a basic tenet of the Reid Technique meant to reduce the likelihood of inducing false confessions" - conducting a non-accusatory interview of the defendant before engaging in an interrogation. The court further stated:

"As underscored in the opening pages of the current edition of the text expounding the Reid Technique, an "interview" is "nonaccusatory," its purpose "is to gather information," "it may be conducted early in an investigation," "it may be conducted in a variety of environments," the conversation should be "free flowing and relatively unstructured," and "the investigator should take written notes." (Inbau et al., Criminal Interrogation, supra, at pp. 3-4.) On the other hand, an "interrogation" is "accusatory" and "involves active persuasion," it "is conducted in a controlled environment" and "only when the investigator is reasonably certain of the suspect's guilt," and the investigator "should not take any notes until after the suspect has told the truth and is fully committed to that position." (Id. at pp. 5-6, italics [emphasis] added.)

"Proponents of the Reid Technique, and virtually all interrogation manuals, counsel that interrogation should almost never be undertaken without the benefit of a previous interview: "Absent a life-saving circumstance the investigator should conduct a non-accusatory interview before engaging in any interrogation. During the interview the investigator can establish rapport with the suspect, assess their credibility, develop investigative information and establish a behavioral baseline. Also, during the interview the suspect is more likely to reveal information that can be used to develop an interrogation strategy." (quoting from the Reid Position Paper at
Click here for the complete decision.

  10/22/2015The Inside Information Checklist
In the August 2015 issue of The Police Chief magazine (published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police) Dr. Gregory DeClue has written an article entitled "The Inside Information Checklist." In this article Dr. DeClue careful examines the issue of false confessions, and in particular, the phenomena of "police contamination" - the disclosure by the investigators to the suspect of details concerning the commission of the crime. Dr. DeClue discusses the importance of "Holdback" information - details about the commission of the crime that the investigators agree to "hold back" and not reveal to anyone that they interview or interrogate during the investigation so as to use the disclosure of such information by the suspect as confirmation of the authenticity of his confession. Dr. DeClue has designed a Holdback List that he recommends investigators should use to document the holdback information in the case.

Dr. DeClue recommends that all sessions with the suspect be recorded so that a review of the recording can identify whether the "holdback" details of the crime offered by the suspect were, in fact, from his own knowledge of the crime or if they had been disclosed to the suspect by the investigators. Specifically, Dr. DeClue states:

"A review of the recording should answer important questions about the validity of the confession. Did the suspect provide inside information regarding the details of the crime?

Did the suspect include some or all of the known details that were included on the Holdback List? If so, which of those details were never mentioned by the police during their interaction with the suspect?

Did the suspect provide the details in response to open-ended questions or only in response to leading questions? For each detail provided by the suspect, was the detail an accurate match to independently collected evidence? Did the suspect provide information regarding details not known by the police prior to the interview or interrogation? If so, has subsequent investigation corroborated the suspect's story? Does each detail provided by the suspect accurately match independent evidence, or not?

If the investigation has been conducted in a conscientious manner, these are very straightforward questions. The Inside Information Checklist (IIC), as shown in Appendix 2, provides a way to organize the details of an investigation, including the details of the suspect's statement, to see if the suspect provided accurate, independently verified details that demonstrate knowledge of inside information about a crime to which he or she has confessed."

Click here for the complete article.

  10/15/2015Review of Reid 90 minute online training program
ASIS International published a review of our 90 minute online training program, "The Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation for Investigators - Parts 1-7" in the August 2015 issue of Security Management. Here it is:

Book Review: The Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation for Investigators
8/17/2015 by John E. Reid and Associates, Inc.; Reviewed by James "Rick" Youngblood, CPP
Appears In August 2015 Print Issue

The Reid Technique is a well-known method for interviewing and interrogating subjects. John E. Reid and Associates began developing the technique in 1947, and the company claims that its process is the most widely used approach to questioning subjects in the world. The Reid Technique is most often taught via multiday, in-person classes; now the company is offering a condensed online training program that provides a detailed overview of the Reid Technique and covers many aspects of interviews and interrogations.

Early on, it explains the difference between an interview and an interrogation and discusses when to use which type of questioning. Students learn the types of questions that should be asked in the early stages of an interview and lines of questioning that can be used to extract the information needed from the person being interviewed. It details how those aspects are different for an interrogation, including asking leading questions, direct questions, and more. Details are included for room setup, including where to place the interviewer, interviewee, and any witnesses.

Staged interviews and interrogations, using actors as interviewees and investigators, illustrate the messages of the presentation. They follow the process of what would take place during a real interview or interrogation.

Adding to the learning experience are handouts for each part of the instruction. The handouts contain some good initial information pertaining to the individual sections. As the program progresses, students will be able to fill in the blanks to complete each handout.

The seven parts of the program include an overview, behavior symptom analysis, nonverbal behavior, verbal behavior, investigative interviewing, interrogation, and a summary. This training program is a valuable tool for those new to the investigative process and others at the intermediate level.

Reviewer: James "Rick" Youngblood, CPP, CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner), has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, security, and loss prevention. He has conducted countless interviews and interrogations in many settings. Youngblood has authored numerous articles and worked as a professor teaching security management for more than 10 years, including online courses. He is vice chair of the ASIS Crime Prevention and Loss Prevention Council and a member of the Investigations Council. He is the author of the new book A Comprehensive Look at Fraud Identification and Prevention.
Click Here for the complete article

  10/15/2015Proper Persuasion - Reid article is the cover story for the August 2015 issue of Security Management magazine
In the August 2015 issue of Security Management magazine from ASIS International, the cover story, "Proper Persuasion" is an article written by David Buckley - one of our senior instructors. Here is an excerpt:

Proper Persuasion



Using persuasive techniques, rather than traditional interrogative methods, can help an investigator elicit the truth from a subject.

MOVIES AND TELEVISION consistently portray interrogators as insensitive, aggressive brutes who use verbal threats, physical force, and false promises to get the information they seek. Think Jack Bauer of 24. But the process of interrogation has evolved significantly over the last few decades, so images associated with the word do not always accurately represent current tactics.

A proper investigative interview does involve questioning, but it is not conducted in a forceful or threatening way. There are a number of important techniques an investigator should cultivate to achieve the ultimate goal of the interview: eliciting the truth from the subject. Maintaining a nonaccusatory tone is critical; the subject must feel comfortable disclosing important facts. A particular line of questioning should be followed to keep the interview from feeling like an interrogation, but also to convince the subject that it is in his or her best interest to tell the truth. Finally, the use of positive persuasion is a cornerstone of the investigative process. This technique includes seven steps, and the second step, the development of persuasive statements, is highlighted in this article. Examples of interview techniques taken from a real-life scenario are included throughout to illustrate how the interviewer can use these best practices to conduct successful investigations.

Click here for the complete article

  08/01/2015Legal Updates for Summer 2015
The Legal Updates Summer 2015 column contains cases which address the following issues:
  • Court admonishes investigator for not following Reid guidelines
  • Value of video recording interrogation to determine competency to waive rights
  • 10-year-old can make voluntary waiver of rights and can understand the wrongfulness of his acts
  • The effectiveness of an anticipatory invocation of the Miranda-based right to counsel
  • Court rejects claim that as a foreign student defendant did not understand the Miranda rights
  • Court does not allow Dr. Craig Haney to testify about false confessions
  • Military court upholds denial of request for false confession expert assistance
  • Competency and the value of video recording the interrogation
  • What constitutes interrogation?
  • Human Lie Detector testimony inadmissible
  • Confession found inadmissible due to promise of no jail and help finding shelter for defendant and her children to live
  • Testimony regarding threat of deportation of family members should have been admitted; could cause a coerced confession
  • Failure to record the interrogation was a violation of Wisconsin law, but harmless error
  • The application of the Garibay test to determine confession admissibility from a non-native English speaker
  • Testimony by the investigator that the defendant's answers during a police interview were evasive was acceptable
  • Testimony of Dr. James Walker re false confession was not persuasive
  • An 'implicit waiver' of the 'right to remain silent' is sufficient to admit a suspect's statement into evidence
  • The defendant's claim that he could not read the Miranda waiver form because he did not have his glasses was disproved by the video of the interrogation

Click here for updates

  06/17/2015The Reid Technique - A Position Paper
As the world leader in teaching interview and interrogation techniques, The Reid Technique is commonly challenged by defense attorneys and interrogation critics. We have prepared a position paper that will provide you with information to respond to these challenges. In this paper we address the following topics:

  • The core principles of the Reid Technique
  • Best Practices
  • Why false confession experts criticize The Reid Technique
  • What the courts say about false confession experts
  • What the courts say about The Reid Technique
  • The best way to guard against false confessions
    Click here to access this position paper.

  •   06/01/2015Legal Updates for Spring 2015
    The Legal Updates Spring 2015 column contains cases which address the following issues:
    • Court rules that a minimal understanding of Miranda rights is sufficient to make a knowing and intelligent waiver
    • Court excludes the testimony of Dr. Deborah Davis regarding false confessions
    • Aggressive behavior does not lead to a coerced confession
    • Defendant not under arrest in his home even though his movements are monitored
    • The propriety of utilizing a suspect's family member during an interrogation
    • "[n]o arrest, no matter how lawful or objectively reasonable, gives an arresting officer or his fellow officers license to deliberately manufacture false evidence against an arrestee"
    • Confession voluntariness - a case study
    • Prosecutor inserts false confession in police interrogation transcript
    • Failure to call expert witness to testify about false confessions was not basis for finding of ineffective counsel
    • Statements inadmissible because the investigator advised defendant he would protect him from going to jail
    • Court admits the confession the defendant made to the victim's mother in a child abuse case
    • Value of video to help determine if schizophrenia caused "unknowing or involuntary" responses
    • "I just as soon wait until I get a public defendant or whatever" ruled an unequivocal invocation of request for an attorney
    • Intoxication (methamphetamine ice, cocaine and beer) did not render incriminating statements inadmissible: value of video
    • Lying to a suspect and "playing on his emotions" does not render the confession inadmissible

    Click here for updates

      05/11/2015International Research Validates the Core Elements of the Reid Technique
    Over the years numerous international research studies have been conducted on the Reid Technique – here are a few that include research from Japan, Korea, Spain, Canada and the US. All of the studies establish the validity of various core elements of the Reid Technique.
    Click here for details.

      04/13/2015Author corrects misrepresentation of the Reid Technique
    In PsycCRITIQUES (Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, American Psychological Association) M. Dyan McGuire reviews the book, "The Miranda Ruling: its Past, Present and Future" by Lawrence Wrightsman and Mary Pitman. In her review Dr. McGuire points out the misrepresentations that Wrightsman and Pitman make about the Reid Technique in their book.

    The assertion that the Reid technique does not train people to determine if a suspect did not commit the crime is also factually incorrect (p. 145). As a "graduate" of the basic and advanced Reid training courses, I know that a considerable amount of time is spent on this subject, including viewing the interrogation of an innocent person to evaluate behavioral and linguistic cues of truthfulness. Moreover, John E. Reid and Associates' (2010) current training manuals cover behavioral assessment for both truth and deception (Senese, 2009).
    Click here for the complete book review by Dr. McGuire.

      04/13/2015High Value Detainee Group research validates the core principles of The Reid Technique
    From the Scientific American (Vol. 26, Issue 23) an article entitled, "How to Extract a Confession...Ethically" confirms the basic tenant of the Reid Technique - always treat the subject with understanding and empathy.

    In 2009 President Barack Obama convened the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), made up of cognitive and social psychologists and other experts. This winter the HIG released its findings in a special issue of Applied Cognitive Psychology.

    The research concluded the following:
    • Coming across as empathetic causes interrogation targets to open up more
    Since 1947 the core principle of the Reid Technique has always been to treat the suspect with empathy and understanding. In our book, Criminal Interrogation and Confessions (5th edition, 2013) in Chapter 6, Qualifications, Attitude, and General Conduct of the Investigator, we state the following:

    Treat the suspect with decency and respect, regardless of the nature of the offense. No matter how revolting or horrible a crime may be (such as a sexually motivated, brutal killing of a small child), the suspect should not be treated or referred to as a despicable, inhumane individual. A sympathetic, understanding attitude and interrogation approach is far more effective. In one of many cases that could be used to illustrate this point, a sex offender, after his confession, said, "I would have told the officers about this earlier if they had only treated me with some decency and respect."

    Many of the findings of the HIG research confirms the Reid Technique, including their conclusion that the investigator should "tell your target a story about what he or she did, leading the person to believe you already know what happened." This is exactly what we do in the development of our interrogation theme. In Chapter 13, The Reid Nine Steps of Interrogation, we state that the theme development should focus on describing the suspect's behavior in light of reasons and motives that will psychologically justify or excuse his behavior - reinforcing "the guilty suspect's own rationalizations and justifications for committing the crime."

      03/18/2015Legal Updates for Winter 2015
    The Legal Updates Winter 2015 column contains cases which address the following issues:
    • Court did not allow David Mantell to testify as an expert on false confessions
    • Defendant was not denied effective assistance due to trial counsel's failure to develop and present expert witness testimony concerning claimed involuntariness of his confession
    • Defendant was not denied effective assistance due to trial counsel's failure to develop and present expert witness testimony concerning claimed involuntariness of his confession
    • Court finds expert testimony regarding false confession phenomenon was not admissible
    • Violation of Garrity rule nullifies admissibility of incriminating statement
    • The importance of accurate translations by the interpreter - erroneously suggesting a lesser punishment if defendant confessed
    • Defendant should have been advised on his rights before questioning in the pat-down room
    • Investigator's statement that it was time for the defendant to "come to Jesus" was not a coercive statement
    • Court excludes the testimony of Dr. Jorey Krawczyn on false confession issues
    • Use of a psychologically-oriented techniques during questioning is not inherently coercive; request to have his mother in the room was not an assertion of his right to remain silent
    • Investigators failed to honor the defendant's invocation of his right to silence
    • Videotaped interrogation admissible even though investigator repeatedly accused defendant of lying
    • Suggesting to the defendant that the stabbing death was self-defense does not render the confession involuntary
    • Employing deceptive practices to elicit a confession are not coercive
    • 13-year olds statement "Could I have an attorney? Because that's not me" Was an Unequivocal and Unambiguous Invocation of his Rights
    • Preamble to the advisement of rights undermined the subsequent Miranda advisement

    Click here for Legal Updates 2015

      02/10/2015Compendium: Electronic Recording of Custodial Interrogations
    On their website the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has published an extensive compendium of the laws and court decisions regarding the electronic recording of custodial interrogations. Here is the article:

    "There are few aspects of police work more important than questioning arrested suspects in felony investigations. To a large extent, our criminal justice system depends upon the accuracy of how the results are reported including all statements, physical actions, facial expressions, and tones of voice of individuals under interrogation.

    During the past decade there has been an increasing use of electronic recording equipment by law enforcement to record their interrogations of felony suspects from the Miranda warnings on. Subsequently, there has been concurrent support for legislation and court rules governing these recordings, to ensure statewide consistency in police and sheriffs' practices and procedures. For example, in 2003, there were two state supreme courts that required recording of custodial interrogations and four others followed suit.

    Tom Sullivan, NACDL member and partner with Jenner & Block, compiled the Compendium and provides an introduction to the project below."

    • PDF version of the complete compendium.

    • The State Map features the most up to date information on pending/enacted legislation and case law, in each state.

    • To view the national organizations that have taken formal positions regarding the practice of electronic recording, click here.

    • To view the foreign countries that have recording statutes and rules, click here.

      02/10/2015Toronto Sun Gets It Wrong
    In a recent article entitled, "Peel Regional Police investigative techniques questioned" the author, Sam Pazzano, makes a number of erroneous statements about The Reid Technique, primarily based on the information he received from two lawyers involved in the Mikey Spence case. Here is the email that we sent to Mr. Pazzano:

    Mr. Pazzano,

    I just read your article entitled, "Peel Regional Police investigative techniques questioned" and was very surprised that with your extensive discussion of The Reid Technique you did not call our office to ask us about the technique that we have been teaching to the law enforcement community for over 50 years. At the very least I would think that you would want to confirm whether or not the description of the Reid Technique given to you by lawyers James Fleming and David Schulman was, in fact, accurate.

    Let me clarify a few of the errors in your article.
    The Reid Technique is built on a core of principles that include the following:

    1. Always conduct interviews and interrogations in accordance with the guidelines established by the courts
    2. Do not make any promises of leniency

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

    4. Do not deny the subject any of their rights

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

    6. Always treat the subject with dignity and respect

    In your article you quote Fleming and Schulman as stating that "The Reid Technique presumes the person is guilty." That simply is not the case. The Reid Technique, when applied as we teach the process, should always begin with a non-accusatory interview designed to develop investigative and behavioral information. During this interview process (which some investigators equate with the PEACE model) the investigator plays a neutral and objective fact finder. It is only when the investigative information and evidence indicate that that a subject may be withholding or fabricating relevant information that an interrogation would take place. Accusing a subject of lying should never be the first contact with a subject.

    In your article you state, "In Canada, there have been a number of high profile cases where police interrogators using the Reid technique created false confessions, some of which resulted in wrongful convictions." That is absolutely not true. False confessions are not caused by the proper application of The Reid Technique, they are caused when the investigators engage in behavior that the courts have deemed to be coercive - threats of harm or inevitable consequences; promises of leniency; denial of a subject's rights; and excessively long interrogations to name a few. In reality, the Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court, have consistently upheld the techniques that we teach.

    In the case of R. v. Amos (2009) the Ontario Superior Court upheld the techniques that the interrogator successfully used to obtain a confession, many of which are elements of the Reid Technique. For example, when discussing the interrogator's efforts to minimize the suspect's moral responsibility, the court stated the following:

    There is nothing problematic or objectionable about police, when questioning suspects, in downplaying or minimizing the moral culpability of their alleged criminal activity. I find there was nothing improper in these and other similar transcript examples where [the detective] minimized [the accused's] moral responsibility. At no time did he suggest that a confession by the subject would result in reduced or minimal legal consequences. Those questions did not minimize the offence anywhere close to the extent of oppression within the meaning of Oickle and other authorities. In using the words "this is your opportunity" to tell your story, and statements to the effect that "your credibility is at its highest now", and in asserting to the accused that he would not be as credible ten months down the road at trial when he had "spoken to lawyers", and the like, the detective was making an approach to the accused's intellect and conscience.

    In R. v. Oickle, (2000) 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."

    In Oickle the Supreme Court offers support for the investigator's necessity to be less than truthful in persuasive efforts during an interrogation. It referenced to the often cited decision of Justice Lamer who wrote, "The investigation of crime and the detection of criminals is not a game to be governed by the Marques's of Queensbury rules. The authorities, in dealing with shrewd and often sophisticated criminals, must sometimes of necessity resort to tricks or other forms of deceit and should not through the rule be hampered in their work. What should be repressed vigorously is conduct on their part that shocks the community." (Rothman v. The Queen, 1981)

    In the Reid Technique we teach that when a suspect appears to be debating whether or not to tell the truth, the use of an alternative question can be a very effective means to obtain the first acknowledgement of the truth. Examples of an alternative question include, "Have you done this many times before or was this just the first time?", "Did you blow that money on drugs and partying, or did you use it to pay bills?", "Was this whole thing your idea or did you get talked into it?" It is important to recognize that none of these alternative questions address real consequences the suspect may face. This concept is emphasized repeatedly during training in The Reid Technique, including several examples of improper alternative questions. An example of an improper alternative question is, "If you planned this out and it was premeditated then we're talking first degree murder. That means spending the rest of your life behind bars. On the other hand, if this happened on the spur of the moment then it's just manslaughter." Clearly this alternative question is telling the suspect that if he confesses to manslaughter he will be sentenced less harshly. It is improper and could be used as grounds to suppress a confession.

    In Oickle, the Court of Appeals expressed concern that the use of an alternative question implied a threat or promise of leniency. In refuting this argument, the Canadian Supreme Court offers a clear test of whether or not an implied threat or promise crosses the legal line to where an ambiguous statement may invalidate a confession. In their opinion they state,

    "The most important consideration in all cases is to look for a quid pro quo offer by interrogators, regardless of whether it comes in the form of a threat or a promise."

    A relevant passage from R. v. Rennie illustrates excellent insight into the criminal mind:

    "Very few confessions are inspired solely by remorse. Often the motives of an accused are mixed and include a hope that an early admission may lead to an earlier release or a lighter sentence. If it were the law that the mere presence of such a motive, even if promoted by something said or done by a person in authority, led inexorably to the exclusion of a confession, nearly every confession would be rendered inadmissible. This is not the law. In some cases the hope may be self-generated. If so, it is irrelevant, even if it provides the dominant motive for making the confession. There can be few prisoners who are being firmly but fairly questioned in a police station to whom it does not occur that they might be able to bring both their interrogation and their detention to an earlier end by confession."

    There are always two sides to every story - as a reporter I thought that would be a paramount concern of yours - to present both sides.

    Joseph P. Buckley
    John E. Reid and Associates

      02/10/2015Charles Piper, CRT new article: Needles in a paystack: Physician submits $500,000 in false claims
    Mr. Charles Piper, Certified in the Reid Technique, has published an article in Fraud magazine entitled, Needles in a paystack: Physician submits $500,000 in false claims. Here is a link to the article

    On January 9, 2013 we posted a notice in the What's New column for two other articles by Charles Piper:

    Two very informative fraud articles written by Charles Piper, Reid graduate and Certified in the Reid Technique (CRT)

    Mr. Charles Piper has written two excellent fraud articles for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners which we are linking to with their permissions:

    "10 popular health care provider fraud schemes" Jan/Feb 2013 Click here

    "Finding the bid riggers: 12 red flags of contract and procurement fraud" July/Aug 2012
    Click here

    Charles has authored book on fraud investigations entitled: Investigator and Fraud Fighter Guidebook: Operation War Stories

    Click Here for Book

      02/10/2015Court offers scathing rejection of false confession expert Dr. Alison Redlich
    In People v. Oliver (July 2014) the Supreme Court, Kings County, New York rejected the testimony of false confession expert Alison Redlich. In their opinion the court stated the following:

    "Dr. Alison Redlich, one of a small group of social scientists who have repeatedly proffered themselves as experts on the subject of false confessions, describes herself as an expert in "the areas of social influence, decision making, scientific methods, and specifically interrogation techniques and confession." She asserts that her testimony "will give jurors a more accurate understanding how to weight [sic] the confession itself and how to avoid using inaccurate cues and assumptions to judge the truthfulness of the confession and/or the defendant's testimony about his confession," yet her proffer makes no reference to the defendant at all, nor to the particular circumstances of this case. Instead, she has provided what appears to be a general treatise on the subject of false confessions. For that reason alone, her proposed testimony does not meet the threshold standard required by the Court of Appeals-that the proposed testimony be relevant to the particular facts of the case before the court.

    Moreover, while Dr. Redlich has impressive academic credentials, there are serious reasons to question the extent of her expertise, the legitimacy of the theories she propounds, and her objectivity.

    ... the Court is not required to accept Dr. Redlich's assertion that her theories are "generally accepted among scientists," especially since many of the researchers she includes in that group are the very researchers whose testimony has been consistently rejected by New York courts. ( See cases cited infra.). As some of those cases make plain, the "relevant scientific community" is not at all unanimous about false confession research, the methods employed by Dr. Redlich and her colleagues, and the conclusions they reach. Dr. Michael Welner, a board certified psychiatrist, is of the opinion that false confessions are "rare events," and that the only way to determine whether a confession is actually false is through DNA testing that disproves the guilt of the confessing defendant.... He dismisses the theories Dr. Redlich and her colleagues advocate as "soft science," pointing out that some of the research actually relied on newspaper reports of cases as sources of allegedly false confessions.

    There is even dissension among the researchers that Dr. Redlich cites. One of them, Dr. Saul Kassin, has conceded that there is no "scientific basis for distinguishing true from false confessions," that "further research in the field is sorely needed," and that lay people may be able to assess whether confessions are in fact false.... Dr. Redlich herself has admitted that her theories cannot be tested empirically.

    ... Dr. Redlich's report is filled with speculation, unsupported theories, and advocacy rather than expertise. There is no empirical support for many of her assertions.

    ... A review of her curriculum vitae reveals that Dr. Redlich has never worked in any law enforcement capacity, nor does she articulate the basis of her theoretical expertise. She is nonetheless critical of law enforcement in general, and police interrogations in particular, which she describes as "confidence games" with "strategies based on the manipulation and betrayal of trust." Given these views, it is difficult to envision an interrogation of which she would approve. In any case, while she is a critic of the police, the Court does not accept her statement that she is an expert in police methods, at least insofar as this case is concerned."
    Click here for the complete decision.

      02/10/2015Why 'Tell me why you did it' is a failed technique
    Lou Senese, Reid VOP, just published a brief article in entitled “Why ‘Tell me why you did it’ is a filed technique.
    Click here for the article:

      02/10/2015Can a subject's silence be used in trial as an indication of his guilt?
    Earlier this year an article entitled, Silence Is No Longer Golden: How Lawyers Now Advise Suspects in Light of Salinas v. Texas, was published in The Champion (a publication from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers). In this article the authors describe the US Supreme Court decision in Salinas v. Texas as follows: "In a 5-4 decision, Salinas held that a witness, whom police subject to a noncustodial questioning without Miranda warning, cannot rely on the Fifth Amendment unless he expressly invokes it. That is, if a witness remains silent in the face of such questioning, the prosecution can, at trail, introduce his silence as substantive evidence of his guilt. And further, the police do not have to inform the witness in advance of his right against self-incrimination."

    Click here to access the complete article

    Click here to access the US Supreme Court Salinas decision

      02/10/2015Japanese research confirms Reid approach
    In the Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation we have always espoused a nonjudgmental, neutral and objective demeanor by the investigator during the interview and an empathetic, understanding approach during the interrogation - building rapport with the suspect and letting the suspect now that anyone in similar circumstances might have done the same thing.

    Recent research in Japan confirms that building relationships with the suspect "gets the best results" and minimizes the chances of a false confession.
    Click here to read the story

      02/10/2015Courts affirm interrogation techniques that are often mischaracterized by false confession experts
    Courts affirm interrogation techniques that are often mischaracterized by false confession experts

    In our Legal Updates Summer 2014 we have several cases that we wanted to highlight for our audience that specifically affirm interrogation techniques that false confession critics often mischaracterize and associate with false confession topics.

    1. Misrepresenting evidence:

    False confession experts ofttimes testify that when the police misrepresent evidence to the suspect (for example, that there was a DNA match) there is a high probability that it will cause a false confession. In actuality it is not the misrepresentation of evidence that is the impetus, but rather the "aggravating circumstances" otherwise present during the interrogation. Here are two cases addressing the issue of misrepresenting evidence to the suspect.

    In Jefferson v. State (July 2014) the Supreme Court of Nevada found that "Jefferson's argument that his confession was rendered involuntary by the detectives' deceptive interrogation techniques is unavailing. Jefferson argues that the detectives misrepresented DNA evidence by exaggerating what DNA evidence could reveal to them and the time frame in which they would learn the information. However, "an officer's lie about the strength of the evidence against the defendant is, in itself, insufficient to make the confession involuntary."
    Furthermore, in US v. Graham (June 2014) the US District Court, N.D. Georgia, pointed out that misrepresenting evidence is "one factor to consider among the totality of the circumstances in determining voluntariness." ... However, "[c]ourts have been reluctant to deem trickery by the police a basis for excluding a confession on the ground that the tricks made the confession coerced and thus involuntary."

    The court points out that there are a number of cases in which statements elicited from a defendant in response to police deception were found involuntary,.... but "these cases all involve significant aggravating circumstances not present here, such as, subjecting the accused to an exhaustingly long interrogation, the application of physical force or the threat to do so, or the making of a promise that induces a confession."

    In other words, it is not the misrepresentation of evidence that is the genesis of a coerced or even false confession, but the "aggravating circumstances" present during the interrogation.

    2. The accident scenario:

    False confession experts ofttimes testify that when the police suggest to the suspect that the shooting may have been an accident, it is tantamount to a promise of leniency and that it is likely to cause an innocent person to confess. Here are two cases addressing the issue of suggesting that the die may have been caused accidentally.
    In State v. Turner (May 2014) the Nebraska Supreme Court held that misinformation by police officers during the defendant's interview that felony murder would receive a lesser sentence than premeditated murder did not overcome defendant's will so as to render his confession involuntary based on purported promises of leniency. From the court's opinion: "Turner argues that his confession was involuntary because it was induced by an implied promise that he would receive a lesser sentence if he confessed that the shooting was accidental. As evidence of this implied promise, he points to Ficenec's statements that it made "a big difference" how and why the shooting occurred..." After an examination of the totality of circumstances the court rejected this argument and found the confession admissible.

    In Smith v. State (June 2014) the Supreme Court of Georgia held that statements by the police detectives during a custodial interrogation to the effect that shooting the victim was an accident in response to the victim lunging at the defendant did not constitute a slightest hope of benefit that could render defendant's confession inadmissible.

    3. Confession voluntariness:

    In People v. McIntyre (May 2014) the Colorado Supreme Court laid out 13 factors that they consider in the evaluation of the voluntariness of a confession:

    1. whether the defendant was in custody;

    2. whether the defendant was free to leave;

    3. whether the defendant was aware of the situation;

    4. whether the police read Miranda rights to the defendant;

    5. whether the defendant understood and waived Miranda rights;

    6. whether the defendant had an opportunity to confer with counsel or anyone else prior to or during the interrogation;

    7. whether the statement was made during the interrogation or volunteered later;

    8. . whether the police threatened [the] defendant or promised anything directly or impliedly;

    9. the method [or style] of the interrogation;

    10. the defendant's mental and physical condition just prior to the interrogation;

    11. the length of the interrogation;

    12. the location of the interrogation; and

    13. the physical conditions of the location where the interrogation occurred.

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