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  10/26/2016Dr. Richard Leo Testimony In Jimerson v. State (June 2016)

In Jimerson v. State (June 2016) Dr. Richard Leo testified about police interrogation techniques and specifically referenced the Reid Technique.  The following is a discussion of several statements that Dr. Leo made during his testimony (as stated in the court’s decision) and our response. Dr. Leo’s statements are in italics.


To view the testimony and response, click here

  10/25/2016The suggestion that the Reid Technique is prohibited in Great Britain (or any country) is a false statement

In a recent court case (Radilla-Esquivel v. State) and an article discussing false confessions, there were references that “the Reid Technique is prohibited in some countries.”  That is a false statement. 

 


Click here to read why this is false...

  09/08/2016September/October 2016 Investigator Tip: When Co-Offenders Are Being Interrogated Consider “Playing One Against the Other”

"When two or more persons have collaborated in the commission of a criminal offense and are later apprehended for questioning, there is usually a nagging fear on the part of each participant that one of them will "talk." Individually, each of them may feel confident of his own ability to evade detection and to avoid confessing, but they generally do not experience a comparable degree of confidence with regard to the co-offender's ability or even willingness to do so. Uppermost in their minds is the possibility that one of them will confess in an effort to obtain special consideration.”


Click here for the complete tip.

  08/31/2016Dr. Richard Leo report describes his view of false confession issues and police interrogation techniques

In a recent report in an alleged false confession case, Dr. Richard Leo describes his view of current law enforcement interrogation techniques and the various issues associated with false confessions. Dr. Leo’s comments are reflective of the current approach that most false confession experts take when they discuss the issue.


Click here to view the key elements of the report.

  08/16/2016Westlaw recognizes the Reid Technique
In their annual publication, Law of Confessions 2016, published by Thomson Reuters Westlaw, the authors include the following comments in their discussion of interrogation approaches:
 
“Coercion can be psychological as well as physical.  This does not typically involve intimidation.  Modern police eschew these techniques, not just because they are unlawful, but because they are ineffective.  Police have been trained to use the “Reid technique,”  which calls for police to be patient and understanding, break down the suspect’s resistance to confessing by expressing confidence in the defendant’s guilt, and providing the suspect with explanations for the crime that place blame on others or rationalize the criminal behavior.” The authors then go on to detail the decision in U.S. Jacques, 744 F.3d 804 (1st Cir. 2014) which found that the various techniques that we teach “all fall safely within the realm of permissible” procedure that the courts have sanctioned.


  08/15/2016The confession of Brendan Dassey (“Making a Murderer”) ruled to be involuntary

In Dassey v. Dittmann (August 2016) the US District Court, E.D. Wisconsin, ruled that Brendan Dassey’s confession was involuntary.  Brendan Dassey’s confession to involvement in the murder of Teresa Halbach was depicted in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer”.  The District Court ruled that the confession was the result of promises of leniency.

The District Court stated that, “the state courts unreasonably found that the investigators never made Dassey any promises during the March 1, 2006 interrogation. The investigators repeatedly claimed to already know what happened on October 31 and assured Dassey that he had nothing to worry about. These repeated false promises, when considered in conjunction with all relevant factors, most especially Dassey’s age, intellectual deficits, and the absence of a supportive adult, rendered Dassey’s confession involuntary under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.”

From the District Court’s opinion:

The court must look to all relevant facts to determine whether Dassey’s March 1 confession was voluntary. The interview occurred mid-day rather than in the early morning hours, or at a time when Dassey might expect to be asleep… The questioning was not particularly prolonged. Although Dassey was in the interview room from about 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., the relevant questioning spanned less than three hours…  Dassey was left alone for less than two hours, the longest single stretch being about 50 minutes. He was offered food and beverages. Although the interview occurred in a police station, it was in a “soft interview room,” with carpeting and upholstered furniture as opposed to a room with an uncarpeted floor, a hard table, and chairs. Wiegert advised Dassey of his rights under Miranda, including the right to not answer questions, to stop the questioning, and to have an attorney appointed for him and present during any questioning.

Dassey exhibited no signs of agitation or distress throughout the interview (he sobbed only after being told he was under arrest). The investigators maintained calm tones, never using aggressive or confrontational tactics. If these were the only relevant facts, they would tend to support a finding that the March 1 confession was voluntary. But when assessed against all of the circumstances of Dassey’s interrogation, these facts are overshadowed by far more consequential facts.

For starters, Dassey was a juvenile – only 16 years old – at the time of his confession.

Also significant is the fact that investigators questioned Dassey without the presence of a arent or other adult looking out for his interests.  It is true that neither federal law nor the United States Constitution requires that the police even inform a juvenile’s parents that the juvenile is being questioned or honor a juvenile’s request that a parent or other adult (other than a lawyer) be present during questioning…  However, because “[i]t is easier to overbear the will of a juvenile than of a parent or attorney, ... in marginal cases–when it appears the officer or agent has attempted to take advantage of the suspect’s youth or mental shortcomings–lack of parental or legal advice could tip the balance against admission.”

Not only did Dassey not have the benefit of an adult present to look out for his interests, the investigators exploited the absence of such an adult by repeatedly suggesting that
they were looking out for his interests: “I wanna assure you that Mark and I both are in your corner, we’re on your side ...” and “... I’m your friend right now, but I ... gotta believe in you and if I don’t believe in you, I can’t go to bat for you.”

Moreover, Dassey’s borderline to below average intellectual ability likely made
  him more susceptible to coercive pressures than a peer of higher intellect… Although he attended regular education classes, Dassey received special education support services.

Ten years earlier, his IQ was assessed at an overall score of 74.

Crucial in the voluntariness analysis is what the investigators told Dassey at the beginning of the interrogation. Fassbender assured Dassey, “from what I’m seeing ... I’m thinking you’re all right. OK, you don’t have to worry about things.”  In isolation, such a statement would not be a problem. Based on what the investigators actually knew at that time, they very possibly believed Dassey to be merely a witness.

However, less than two minutes later, Wiegert assured Dassey, “We  pretty much know everything[.] [T]hat’s why we’re talking to you again today.” … The combination of these statements, that the investigators already “pretty much know everything” and that Dassey did not “have to worry about things,” is an entirely different matter. The investigators were not merely telling Dassey, “Based upon what you have told us so far, we don’t think you have anything to worry about.”  Rather, what they told Dassey was, “We already know what happened and you don’t have anything to worry about.”  The investigators’ assertions that they already knew what happened and assurances that Dassey did not have anything to worry about were not confined to an isolated instance at the beginning but rather persisted throughout the interrogation.

Dassey’s conduct during the interrogation and his reaction to being told he was  under arrest clearly indicate that he really did believe that, if he told the investigators what they professed to already know, he would not be arrested for what he said.

The investigators’ statements were not merely ambiguous promises to Dassey that cooperating would lead to a better deal or that the investigators would “stand  behind” him or “go to bat” for him, … Rather, the investigators’ collective statements throughout the interrogation clearly led Dassey to believe that he would not be punished for telling them the incriminating details they professed to already know. While at one point Wiegert did rotely say, “We can’t make any promises...” this single, isolated statement was drowned out by the host of assurances that they already knew what happened and that Dassey had nothing to worry about.

Thus, the state courts’ finding that there were no “promises of leniency” was “against the clear and convincing weight of the evidence….”

 
The Supreme Court has long recognized that a false promise is a powerful force in overcoming a person’s free will…. Consequently, “[a] false promise of lenience is ‘an example of forbidden [interrogation] tactics, for it would impede the suspect in making an informed choice as to whether he was better off confessing or clamming up.’”


More than merely assuring Dassey that he would not be punished if he admitted  participating in the offenses, the investigators suggested to Dassey that he would  be punished if he did not tell “the truth.”
   Especially when the investigators’ promises, assurances, and threats of negative consequences are assessed in conjunction with Dassey’s age, intellectual deficits, lack of experience in dealing with the police, the absence of a parent, and other relevant personal characteristics, the free will of a reasonable person in Dassey’s position would  have been overborne. Once considered in this proper light, the conclusion that Dassey’s statement was involuntary under the totality of the circumstances is not one about which “fairminded jurists could disagree.”

That said, the court does not ascribe any ill motive to the investigators. Rather than an intentional and concerted effort to trick Dassey into confessing, what occurred here may have been the product of the investigators failing to appreciate how combining statements that they already “knew everything that happened” with assurances that Dassey was “OK” and had nothing to worry about collectively resulted in constitutionally impermissible promises.


Click here for the complete decision

  07/19/2016Success with Reid - reunited with her father’s American Memorial Flag
One of our Investigators, Corporal Steve Purdy (a graduate of your 4-day class in Branson West, MO on Feb 3-6, 2015), recently received international media coverage for a juvenile interview he did which enabled a victim 1,700 miles away to be reunited with the American Memorial Flag that draped her Dad’s casket in 1969.
Purdy, when asked about his success in the interview room, attributes “The Reid Technique” for this and the dozens of other successes he’s had since graduating from your course. I’m going to send you a link to a local coverage of the event but it was also covered by 42 other media outlets including the UK (Daily Mail), The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune and the Seattle Times (to name a few).
Thank you for your work.
Tom McLain,Chief of Police,Willard, MO

(link to coverage referred to in the testimonial)

  07/11/2016Military court decisions re interrogation issues
Military court decisions re interrogation issues
 
Over the years we have posted on our website numerous military court decisions that dealt with a variety of interrogation issues.  For example:
 

Military Court supports Reid Technique

 

In US v. Freeman the U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction of Freeman for "one specification of false official statement and one specification of assault with a means or force likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm." In reviewing the investigator's interrogation techniques (which he had identified as The Reid Technique) which elicited an incriminating statement from Freeman, the Court found that "We find no basis to conclude that the AFOSI overbore the appellant's will in eliciting the incriminating statement. Despite the fact that the interrogation was relatively lengthy, we conclude the circumstances do not evidence coercion within the meaning of Mil. R. Evid. 304. Additionally, none of the trickery which the agents employed appears to have been calculated to produce a false confession; rather, it is generally consistent with standard police practices." 

 


Click here for additional cases

  06/01/2016Dr. Thomas Grisso’s Understanding and Appreciating Miranda Rights
In Middleton v. State (Jan 2016) Dr. James Barnard testified for the defense. He prepared two reports, one was a psychological evaluation and the other examined Middleton's competency to waive his Miranda rights.

Dr. Barnard administered an instrument entitled “Dr. Thomas Grisso's Understanding and Appreciating Miranda Rights.” Dr. Barnard testified that Middleton's total score was 13 out of 30, more than two standard deviations below the mean. He testified that, although Middleton could paraphrase portions of Miranda, he “showed a very significant weakness in terms of his ability to intelligently apply knowledge of Miranda, to novel situations.” Dr. Barnard stated that it was difficult to reconcile his findings during the testing with what he saw on the confession video. He explained that there is no correlation between having had Miranda warnings administered in the past and actually understanding them. He also stated that there are no validity scales for Grisso’s Miranda test.


Here is some information on the Grisso Instrument, Understanding and Appreciating Miranda Rights:

  06/01/2016The Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) technique

In the January 2016 issue of Police Chief magazine, there was an article entitled “Using Science to Increase Effectiveness of Sexual Assault Investigations”. 


Highlights of the article include the following:

  05/24/2016“I Did It” - Confession Contamination and Evaluation
Police Chief magazine published a “web-only article” earlier this month entitled, “I Did It” - Confession Contamination and Evaluation.  In the article the author, James Trainum, highlights a false confession case and effectively articulates the various issues that investigators must be aware of that can contribute to false confessions and identifies red flags that might suggest the possibility of a false confession.
 
 

Click here for the article.

  05/19/2016Detective erroneously associates “sleep deprivation” with the Reid Technique
In Crafton v. District of Columbia, et. al., Defendants (September 2015) reference is made by the interrogating detective that when questioning the suspect, Kim Crafton, he connected a “lengthy, grueling 17-hour videotaped interrogation…during which he used flawed techniques of interrogation, including sleep deprivation, that he had been taught by the Metropolitan Police Department, known as Reid training.”  We certainly want to set the record straight that under no circumstances or at anytime in any of our training programs or publications or books have we ever advocated sleep deprivation as an interrogation technique.  Furthermore, we point out in our book that if the subject remains adamant in their denials after a 3 to 4 hour period the investigator should re-evaluate the situation - he may be dealing with an innocent suspect.  We teach that an excessively long interrogation can be a significant factor in false confession cases.
 
It is interesting to note that in this same case the detective acknowledged developing alibi information in this case that established the innocence of the suspect, Kim Crafton, that he did not disclose to the suspect’s attorney.
 

Click here for the complete opinion.

  03/29/2016The Legal Updates Winter 2016
The Legal Updates Winter 2016 column contains cases which address the following issues:
  • California Supreme Court upholds rejection of Dr. Richard Leo testimony
  • The value of videotaping the interrogation in disputing intoxication claim
  • Confession voluntariness: ambiguous invocation of right to remain silent and rejection of claim of coercive police tactics; rejection of exhaustion claims
  • Court upholds suppression of incriminating statements because Detective read Miranda rights in a "garbled' manner
  • Investigator's pre-Miranda statement rendered the subsequent waiver coerced and involuntary
  • Military Appeals Court upholds decision to deny defendant's request for assistance of expert in coercive interrogation techniques
  • Intrinsic falsehoods do not create a coerced confession
  • Ambiguous invocation of right to remain silent; and, police officer's implication that defendant might see the outside again if he confessed to a robbery gone bad instead of a premeditated murder was not an inducement rendering his confession involuntary
  • Expert should have been allowed to testify on the factors influencing the reliability of the defendant's confession
  • The statement "[i]f I am under arrest, take me to my bunk; all these questions, we can just skip them because I want to go to court" was an unambiguous invocation of his right to remain silent
  • Value of videotaping interrogation to demonstrate defendant's demeanor; lying about DNA evidence not coercive
  • South Dakota adopts the "trustworthiness" standard to determine whether admissions are admissible and sufficient to support a conviction in criminal cases
  • Threat of being raped in jail contributed to a coerced confession
  • Defendant's statement that he had a personal lawyer and that "[C]an we get him down here now, or ...?" was not an unambiguous request for a lawyer
  • Reference to the possible prosecution of his son did not render the confession inadmissible

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  03/27/2016TASER Exposure and Cognitive Impairment: Implications for Valid Miranda Waivers and the Timing of Police Custodial Interrogations
In the above referenced article the authors suggest that an individual who has experienced TASER exposure will experience reduced cognitive functioning. As a result the authors question the abilities of an "average" suspect to make a knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver of their Miranda rights for up to 60 minutes following the TASER exposure.
Click here for the study

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