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  4/23/2014Court confirms that The Reid Technique consists of proper interrogation procedures
In US v. Jacques (March 2014) the US Court of Appeals, First Circuit, upheld the lower court's opinion that a confession obtained by interrogators using elements of the Reid technique was voluntary and admissible. (We reported on the lower court's opinion in the Legal Updates Fall 2011.) In this opinion the US Court of Appeals stated the following:

"Finally, Jacques claims that Mazza and Smythe overbore his will through their use of the "Reid technique," including exaggerating their evidence and minimizing the gravity of his suspected offense, in obtaining a confession. Extreme forms of deception or chicanery by the police may be sufficient to render a confession involuntary.... Nevertheless, "the use of chicanery does not automatically undermine the voluntariness of a confession." Id. This court has consistently recognized that "some degree of deception ... during the questioning of a suspect is permissible."

Specifically, "a confession is not considered coerced merely because the police misrepresented to a suspect the strength of the evidence against him." Clanton v. Cooper, 129 F.3d 1147, 1158 (10th Cir.1997); see also Frazier v. Cupp, 394 U.S. 731, 739 (1969) (finding that the police's "misrepresent [ations]" of a co-defendant's alleged incriminating statements were, "while relevant, insufficient in our view to make this otherwise voluntary confession inadmissible."); Holland v. McGinnis, 963 F.2d 1044, 1051 (7th Cir.1992) (finding "the fact that the officer misrepresented ... the strength of the evidence" to be "one factor to consider among the totality of circumstances in determining voluntariness"); Green v. Scully, 850 F.2d 894, 903 (2d Cir.1988) (finding police officer's "assert[ion] that he already had a strong case against petitioner" insufficient to render the ensuing confession involuntary). As the Seventh Circuit has noted, "[o]f the numerous varieties of police trickery, ... a lie that relates to a suspect's connection to the crime is the least likely to render a confession involuntary." Holland, 963 F.2d at 1051.

In this case, the agents' statements exaggerating the quality of their evidence, minimizing the gravity of Jacques's offense, and emphasizing the negative media attention that would attend Jacques's trial all fall safely within the realm of the permissible "chicanery" sanctioned by this and other courts. Jacques points to no federal authority supporting a finding of an involuntary confession under similar circumstances.... Considered in the full circumstances of this case, Mazza and Smythe's interrogative tactics did not amount to coercion in violation of Jacques's Fifth Amendment rights."
Click here for the complete decision

Current What's New:
  10/11/2018The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office: Interrogation
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has prepared and published an excellent article entitled, Interrogation, which examines numerous interrogation issues, including when pressure becomes coercion, looking at such elements as location of the interrogation, threats and promises, interrogation tactics, exploiting a psychological vulnerability and the suspect’s “power of resistance.”
Click here for updates.

For several years now John E. Reid and Associates has conducted specialized, in-house training programs for numerous military personnel. In 2019 we will offer two open registration programs (for military personnel ONLY). These programs will be held in Tampa, FL (Spring) and Las Vegas, NV (Fall).  Specific dates and locations will be announced in the coming months.

The Reid military program for special operations, intelligence, counterintelligence, and HUMINT collection integrates the Reid “Behavior Analysis Interview” and “Nine Steps” with Army Field Manual 2-22.3 (“the Manual”) in the arts of detecting deception, tactical questioning, screening, debriefing, source contact operations, elicitation, liaison, and interrogation to fit the MOS of each specific audience. 

The Reid Military Instructional Program differs from its counterpart law enforcement programs by:

  • focusing themes and behavior assessment for maximum effectiveness within target geographic areas of responsibility (AORs); 
  • adapting instructional models to the risks/variables inherent within uncontrolled environments; 
  • incorporating recognition and resistance against hostile interrogation/elicitation tactics;  
  • including proactive intelligence collection in addition to after-action investigation; 
We will post the specific dates and locations in the coming months.

  8/16/2018Legal Updates Summer 2018

The Legal Updates Summer 2018 column contains cases which address the following issues

  • Interrogation 5 hours after initial advisement of rights was “reasonably contemporaneous” with the initial waiver
  • Value of video recording in contradicting defendant’s claims: three cases  
  • Court rules that confession was the result of coercive statements to the defendant  
  • Court rules confession should have been suppressed: lack of Miranda advisement and promises of leniency  
  • Interrogation room and seating arrangement as a consideration in assessing the voluntary nature of the confession: two cases  
  • Elements of a false confession   
  • Failure to call false confession expert is not suggestive of ineffective counsel: two cases   
  • Misrepresentations of evidence by police, although a relevant factor, do not render an otherwise voluntary confession inadmissible    
  • Detailed analysis of criteria to determine juvenile waiver of rights

Click here for updates.

  7/18/2018Exclusive Offer for Reid Graduates
50% Off Refresher

Need a refresher? As a previous Reid Graduate you will receive 50% off when you register for any open enrollment, THE REID TECHNIQUE OF INVESTIGATIVE INTERVIEWING AND ADVANCED INTERROGATION™ and/or THE REID TECHNIQUE OF INVESTIGATIVE INTERVIEWING AND POSITIVE PERSUASION™ course.

You must call 800-255-5747, ext 14 or 24 to receive this offer. Previous attendance will require verification. Please be prepared to provide us with your original date of attendance.

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  7/9/2018References to the Reid Technique in the world of literature

In a murder mystery novel by Scott Pratt, entitled “Good Faith”  (2018) the author makes the following reference to the Reid Technique:

Page 148:

“He thought briefly about how he would conduct the interrogations.  The Reid technique was now standard operating procedure in law enforcement.  Make the suspect as comfortable as possible.  Make him think you’re there to help him.  Try to find some common ground and get him talking – it didn’t matter what the conversation was about initially.   The theory behind the Reid technique was that suspects would feel great and want to unload their burden.  The officer was there to facilitate the cleansing of the spirit.  Get him talking, eventually turn the conversation toward the crime, and gently persuade him to confess.”

  7/3/2018Independence Day Savings

Independence Day Savings

Register for any of these open enrollment July courses and save.



$795 Regular Price - July Special $695

$100 Savings


San Diego CA / July 10 - 13, 2018

Orlando FL / July 9 - 12, 2018

Baltimore MD / July 17 - 20, 2018

Tallahassee FL / July 24 - 27, 2018

Tucson AZ / July 24 - 27, 2018


The Independence Day savings are for the July open enrollment training programs listed above. Courses have limited seating! Register early to guarantee your seat. Use code INDEPENDENCE DAY when registering.

  6/27/2018One of our senior instructors, Attorney Philip Mullenix, has just published an excellent article in the Marine Corps Gazette entitled, “On Leadership: Core leadership traits.”
Here are the opening paragraphs of the article:

It’s a fact that each of you possess skills in your underlying MOS and as a leader in the Marine Corps. Because you are a Marine, whether active duty or retired, you’ve reached a level of success that others only dream of achieving. Therefore, this is not a condescending missive on how to become a success. You’re already there. 

What I offer are observations on lives well-spent as well as on opportunities lost. The perch from which I’ve made these observations is a little unorthodox. For almost four decades as a professional interrogator, military interrogation instructor, and lawyer, I’ve witnessed in others the full range of human behavior, from the best to the worst: 
- Enormous achievement on one hand—full-blown failure on the other. 
- Peace of mind and self-fulfillment on one hand—utter despair on the other. 
- Well-earned respect—versus the most aberrant disregard toward others. 
- The person of real substance who has the strength of character to watch the backs and raise the game of those around him—versus the self-promoting phony who tries to elevate himself by demeaning others. 

What distinguishes one from the other? How does one rise to the occasion rather than fall by the wayside? How do leaders get to the figurative bow of the ship where you can cut your own wake through the waters of life rather than slide to the stern where others will decide your destiny and leave you awash in waves that could sweep you overboard? Here are a few observations which might enhance your “leadership quotient.” 

Click here for the complete article

  6/20/2018Clarifying/Correcting Court Statements about the Reid Technique
State v. Pico (2018)
In their opinion the court stated the following:

“During at least part of the interview, Detective Rich used what is known as the “Reid technique.” This technique involves telling the interviewee that law enforcement officials have certain incriminating evidence (which they do not, in fact, have), in the hope that the interviewee will disclose factually accurate details about the event in question.”


One of the core principals of the Reid Technique is to always conduct interrogations in accordance with the guidelines established by the courts.  The U.S. Supreme Court in Frazier v. Cupp (1969) stated that misrepresenting evidence to a suspect “is, while relevant, insufficient in our view to make this otherwise voluntary confession inadmissible.  These cases must be decided by viewing the “totality of circumstances….”

In our books and training program we advise the audience of this decision, but urge caution as to its application, stating:

  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.

Dassey v. Dittman (2017) 

from the dissenting opinion:

“Courts have long expressed concern about approaches such as the Reid Technique that rely on psychological coercion. Just four years after the first edition of the manual was published, (1962) the Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona “repeatedly sighted and implicitly criticized” the Reid approach.”


The Supreme Court’s references to the Reid approach in the Miranda opinion were 
informational with respect to the current state of law enforcement interrogation practices at that time. In the Miranda decision the US Supreme Court referenced the book, Criminal Interrogation and Confessions by Fred Inbau and John Reid (1962) and the predecessor book Lie Detection and Criminal Interrogation(1953) a combined total of eleven times. 

Click here for the exact text from the Miranda decision and the corresponding footnotes which reference the Inbau/Reid books:

Also from the dissenting opinion:

“For many years, the Reid technique has been criticized by scholars and experts for increasing the rate of false confessions. As far back as Miranda, the Supreme Court warned that “[e]ven without employing brutality, the ‘third degree’ ” used in the Reid technique “exacts a heavy toll on individual liberty and trades on the weakness of individuals,” and ‘may even give rise to a false confession.’”


The Miranda court did not say that the Reid technique “exacts a heavy toll on individual liberty and trades on the weakness of individuals.” Their comment was made in reference to custody. The US Supreme Court specifically stated, “...the very fact of custodial interrogation exacts a heavy toll on individual liberty, and trades on the weakness of individuals.”

  6/1/2018Legal Updates Spring 2018

The Legal Updates Spring 2018 column contains cases which address the following issues:

  • Court finds Dr. Richard Leo’s testimony of false confessions to be unreliable
  • Court rejects the testimony of Dr. Joseph Drumm on false confession issues  
  • Statements that suggest that judges or prosecutors may be more lenient on a defendant who they perceive as being honest and who “took responsibility” for his actions, do not promise any sort of leniency or guarantee any special treatment  
  • The value of recording the interrogation to refute the defendant’s claims  
  • Failure to consider and present expert testimony on the issue of false confessions was not indicative of ineffective counsel  
  • The value of recording to refute the defendant’s claims of coercion   
  • Court confirms acceptability of minimizing the moral seriousness of the offense  
  • Special Miranda warnings for juveniles in New York, as well as a special room for questioning

Click here for updates.

  05/01/2018May/June 2017 Investigator Tip: The Value of Behavior Provoking Questions – A Case Study

The investigative interview process in the Reid Technique is called the Behavior Analysis Interview (BAI).    The BAI consists of three types of questions: Initial Questions designed to develop biographical information, establish rapport, acclimate the subject to the interview environment, describe the investigative process and establish a behavioral baseline for the subject. 

The second group of questions are the Investigative Questions, which are designed to develop the subject’s story or version of events concerning the issue under investigation, his/her alibi during the time period in question, and the who, what, when, where, why and how of activities relevant to the issue under investigation.  In previous Investigator Tips we discussed using open-ended questions to develop the subject’s pure version of events, and how to use follow up questions to develop additional details from their initial account.  (See March/April 2017 and May/June 2017 Investigator Tips: Using Open-ended Questions During the Investigative Interview Part 1, and Part 2). 

The third type of questions are the Behavior Provoking Questions designed to elicit responses that can be evaluated as to the subject’s credibility about their potential involvement in the issue under investigation.  There have been in excess of 25 behavior provoking questions developed over the years but this Investigator Tip will only discuss four of them, and then illustrate their use in a case involving 2 subjects.  Research has indicated that most truthful subjects answer the behavior provoking questions one way while deceptive subject’s answer the same questions in a very different way.

Click here for the complete Investigator Tip

  04/06/2018Legal Updates Winter 2018
The Legal Updates Winter 2018 column contains cases which address the following issues:
  • When the interview became custodial the suspect should have been advised of his Miranda rights
  • Promises on leniency nullify the admissibility of the confession
  • Officer’s questions to defendant while at door of her residence, were compelling, thus giving rise to the need for Miranda warnings
  • Lying about DNA evidence is not coercive
  • Lying about footprints, fingerprints and other evidence is not coercive
  • Court finds confession inadmissible due to denial of subject’s request for an attorney
  • Court suggests police used Assistant Principal to question student to avoid the advisement of rights 

Click Here to read the Winter 2018 Cases

  03/29/2018Reid and the Innocence Project
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 real offender.  In fact, this case was detailed in the story, “I Did It” in New York magazine (

We have also assisted other attorneys (for example, Kathleen Zellner) in wrongful conviction cases.

For a list of Best Practices that we espouse in our work with the Innocence Project, click here.

  03/28/2018An example of Dr. Richard Leo’s testimony on the issue of false confessions
In the case, US v. Begay (February 2018) the US District Court, D. New Mexico described Dr. Ricahrd Leo’s testimony as he described his view of current police interrogation methods, and false confession issues.

Click here for the details.

  01/26/2018Clarifying Misrepresentations About Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques
Over the years social psychologists, defenses attorneys and some academicians have offered a number of criticisms of current law enforcement interrogation practices, and, in particular, the Reid Technique. Some of these criticisms are:

• the goal of an interrogation is to get a confession whether it is true or not
• investigators use minimization tactics in which they offer the suspect leniency if he confesses, and harsher punishment (maximization) if he does not
• investigators oftentimes interrogate innocent people whom they have erroneously classified as guilty
• investigators use coercive tactics and procedures to secure confessions
• investigators feed crime details to the suspect so that the authenticity of their incriminating statements is difficult to assess
• investigators lie to the suspect about evidence
• investigators do not modify their tactics when questioning juveniles or mentally impaired individuals
• the interrogation is designed to make the suspect feel isolated and hopeless so that he sees no way out except to confess
• the Reid Technique is a guilt presumptive approach

In this paper we will address each of these criticisms and set the record straight as to exactly what we teach with respect to law enforcement interrogation techniques, and the Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation in particular.

Click Here

  1/1/2018Police Chief magazine article on the PEACE Method

The November 2017 issue of Police Chief magazine features an article entitled, Bringing PEACE to the United States.  The article is well written and provides the reader with a very clear explanation of the PEACE model - which is essentially an investigative interviewing process developed and used in the United Kingdom.  Here is an abbreviated description of the PEACE interview process:

Planning and Preparation:  Prepare thoroughly for the interview; understand the purpose of the interview; develop as much information as possible about the crime and the subject to be interviewed, and consider the case facts relative to the subjects to be interviewed.  (See Reid Investigator Tip: Factual Analysis)

Engage and Explain: Establish rapport with the subject; treat the subject with dignity and respect; and explain to the subject the format and procedures that you are going to follow.

Account: Allow the subject to tell their story or version of events; expand and clarify the initial account; and, when appropriate, use evidence to challenge the account.  (see Reid Investigator Tips: Using Open-ended Questions During the Investigative Interview (Part 1 and Part 2 and Cognitive Interviewing)

Closure: Confirm with the subject the information that was developed during the interview and explain to the subject what will happen next.

Evaluation: Determine if the goals and objectives of the interview have been accomplished and review the investigation in light of the information developed during the interview.

As an addendum, in the UK a subject’s silence can be used against them and the suspect is advised of this.  The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 provides statutory rules under which adverse inferences may be drawn from silence.

Adverse inferences may be drawn in certain circumstances where before or on being charged, the accused:

•    fails to mention any fact which he later relies upon and which in the circumstances at the time the accused could reasonably be expected to mention;

•    fails to give evidence at trial or answer any question;

•    fails to account on arrest for objects, substances or marks on his person, clothing or footwear, in his possession, or in the place where he is arrested; or

  • fails to account on arrest for his presence at a place.

(For additional information on interviewing techniques, see Criminal Interrogation and Confessions (5th ed, 2013) - in particular these Chapters: Preparation and Starting the Interview; Formulating Interview Questions; Behavior Symptom Analysis; Precautions when Evaluating Behavior Symptoms of Truthful and Untruthful Subjects; The Behavior Analysis Interview; and,The Use of Specialized Questioning Techniques)

Also, here is an article detailing the Reid Behavior Analysis Interview that was published in the International Journal of Police Science & Management.

  12/28/2017How defense attorneys describe the Reid Technique in the courtroom - and where they go wrong
In Radilla-Esquivel v. Davis (December 2017) US District Court, W.D. Texas the defense attorney made a number of erroneous assertions about the Reid Technique.  His statements (taken from the US District Court opinion) are in blue in the attached document, with the correct information detailed thereafter
Click here.

  12/18/2017Federal Appeals Court upholds confession of “Making a Murderer” subject Brendan Dassey

In Dassey v. Dittmann (December 2017) the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, upheld the admissibility of Brendan Dassey’s confession, ruling that the “state court’s determination that defendant confessed to murder voluntarily was not an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent.”  From the Court of Appeals decision: 

Whether Dassey's confession was voluntary or not is measured against a general standard that takes into account the totality of the circumstances…. Some factors would tend to support a finding that Dassey's confession was not voluntary: his youth, his limited intellectual ability, some suggestions by the interrogators, their broad assurances to a vulnerable suspect that honesty would produce leniency, and inconsistencies in Dassey's confession. Many other factors, however, point toward a finding that it was voluntary. Dassey spoke with the interrogators freely, after receiving and understanding Miranda warnings, and with his mother's consent. The interrogation took place in a comfortable setting, without any physical coercion or intimidation, without even raised voices, and over a relatively brief time. Dassey provided many of the most damning details himself in response to open–ended questions. On a number of occasions he resisted the interrogators' strong suggestions on particular details. Also, the investigators made no specific promises of leniency. 

After the state courts found the confession voluntary, a federal district court and a divided panel of this court found that the state courts' decision was unreasonable and that Dassey was entitled to a writ of habeas corpus…. The state courts' finding that Dassey's confession was voluntary was not beyond fair debate, but we conclude it was reasonable. We re–verse the grant of Dassey's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. 

…. Turning to the techniques used in the interrogation, the investigators told Dassey many times that they already knew what had happened when in fact they did not. Such deception is a common interview technique. To our knowledge, it has not led courts (and certainly not the Supreme Court) to find that a subject's incriminating answers were involuntary…. Also, most of the incriminating details in Dassey's confession were not suggested by the questioners. He volunteered them in response to open–ended questions. 

…. The requirement that courts take “special care” in analyzing juvenile confessions does not call for habeas relief here. The state appellate court met the requirements for analyzing juvenile confessions by considering Dassey's age, his intellectual capacity, and the voluntary absence of his mother during the interrogation. The state court noted that the officers read Dassey his Miranda rights and that Dassey later remembered his rights and agreed to talk anyway. The court assessed coercion in relation to Dassey's vulnerabilities, including his “age, intellectual limitations and high suggestibility.” The court did not limit its inquiry to only whether the most abusive interrogation techniques were used. The court examined the tones and volumes of the investigators' voices, finding that the officers “used normal speaking tones, with no hectoring, threats or promises of leniency,” though they did prod Dassey to be honest and sought to establish a rapport with him. The court even considered Dassey's physical comfort by noting he sat on a sofa and was offered food, drink, and restroom breaks. 

Click here for additional details from the court’s opinion

click to get to the full Appellate Court Decision

Click Here to view earlier "What's New"