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  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
President
John E. Reid and Associates

Current What's New:
  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 (http://www.reid.com/pdfs/ididit.pdf).

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

  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

  11/08/2017Massachusetts Supreme Court confirms that minimization/maximization techniques are acceptable
In the case of Commonwealth v. Cartwright (Novemebr 2017) the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts stated that “  …. we have not acted to prevent police investigators from suggesting to a suspect being interviewed that the investigators are convinced, based on evidence, of the defendant’s guilt…. Nor have we concluded that an interviewing officer's efforts to minimize a suspect's moral culpability, by, for example, suggesting theories of accident or provocation, are inappropriate, or sought to preclude suggestions by the interviewers “broadly that it would be better for a suspect to tell the truth, [and] ... that the person's cooperation would be brought to the attention of [those] involved.”
Click here for additional details

  11/05/2017Why the Reid Technique® Method Continues to be the Most Effective Means Available to Learn the Truth
One of the fundamental precepts of the Reid Technique is to use sound reasoning, understanding and empathy to motivate subjects to tell the truth.  John Reid started using this approach over 70 years ago and it is as effective today as it was then. 

John Reid was a visionary who was ahead of his time.  He demonstrated the effectiveness of treating people, even those who have committed heinous crimes, with decency and respect.  John Reid tried to see the good in all people and tried to understand why they would commit their crimes.  John had the patience and insight to understand the pre-existing thought process of others and he was able to use this insight to make an emotional connection with a subject and gain a level of trust and understanding that made it possible for him to engage in the art of persuasion to motivate even the most hardened criminal to tell the truth.  

John developed a systematic approach that would protect the innocent, identify the guilty and motivate the guilty to want to tell the truth.  He did this without the use of threats or promises of leniency.  He did it by tapping into pre-existing rationalizations that originated in the mind of the suspect.  John’s understanding of human behavior allowed him to empathize with those who made bad decisions and committed a variety of crimes.  

Today there are critics who have a very shallow understanding of the psychology of the Reid Technique and create a false narrative by suggesting that the inappropriate tactics used by investigators over the years are part of the Reid method….nothing could be further from the truth, as illustrated by our core principles: 
  • Always conduct interviews and interrogations in accordance with the guidelines established by the courts
  • Do not make any promises of leniency
  • Do not threaten the subject with any physical harm or inevitable consequences
  • Do not deny the subject any of their rights
  • Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs
  • Always treat the subject with dignity and respect
  • Do not conduct excessively long interrogations
  • Exercise caution when interrogating juveniles, suspects with a lower intelligence or suspects with mental impairments
For over seventy years through our training programs John E. Reid and Associates has been providing investigators with the techniques and skills necessary to conduct effective investigative interviews and interrogations. 

We have listed a number of facts regarding the Reid Technique® method for your review: 

Click here to continue

  11/03/2017Legal Updates Fall 2017

The Legal Updates Fall 2017 column contains cases which address the following issues:

  • Federal Appeals Court upholds confession of “Making of a Murderer” subject Brendan Dassey
  • Massachusetts Supreme Court confirms that minimization/maximization techniques are appropriate
  • The value of recording interrogations – demonstrating a knowing waiver of rights
  • The value of recoding interrogations – demonstrating a violation of rights
  • The value of recording interrogations in determining custody
  • Value of recording interrogations in examining the claim of intoxication
  • Value of recording to assess understanding and waiver of rights
  • Value of recording interrogations to determine if the suspect’s will was overborne by promises of leniency
  • Court rules that the use of the Reid Technique did not violate the defendant's due process rights
  • Court finds juvenile confession involuntary: noting that as in the Elias case, the investigators did not appropriately change their approach for a juvenile interrogation
  • Court rejects the testimony of Dr. Brian Cutler on false confession issues


Click here for updates

  11/01/2017The November - December Investigator Tip: FACTUAL ANALYSIS
Factual analysis can be defined as estimating the probability of a suspect's guilt or innocence based on investigative findings.  Each investigator uses factual analysis to narrow the scope of suspects - to eliminate innocent suspects and to focus the investigation around a particular suspect most likely to be guilty. 

As an introduction, factual analysis is divided into five component parts: Opportunity/Access, Attitude, Motivation, Biographical Information, and Evidence.

Click here to access the complete Tip

  10/11/2017ALERT TO ALL PROSECUTORS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICALS!!!

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

v. 
JORDAN MONROE, Defendant.

Cr. No. 16-055 WES

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND

September 11, 2017

Preface

You should be aware of certain comments made by Chief Judge, William E. Smith, of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island in the above referenced case  regarding the Reid Technique in deciding the defendant's motion to suppress incriminating statements.  Among other things, the defendant, Jordan Monroe, claimed that the Reid Technique rendered his statements involuntary.  Judge Smith followed the established legal precedent in finding that the use of the Reid Technique did not violate the defendant's due process rights, and rejected the defendant's claim.  However, Judge Smith personally sided with the position taken by some criminal defense attorneys and a few law professors, who question the voluntariness of any incriminating statements made by a suspect while being questioned by law enforcement officers using the Reid Technique.


Click here for the opinion.

  09/12/2017The Reid interrogation technique successfully used in India

We have conducted several training programs in India.  This week our interview and interrogation techniques were used to successfully resolve a high profile case:

"Kochi: The Kerala police team probing the February 17 actress assault case used modern scientific methods to collect evidence. The case diary submitted in court to counter the accused-actor Dileep’s bail plea revealed the use of ‘stool pigeon’ and ‘Reid Method' techniques for the probe over a period of six months."

The article is entitled “‘Stool pigeon’ & ‘Reid Method’: how police employed scientific techniques to corner Suni"

Click here to access the story

  09/01/2017Sept/Oct Investigator Tip - The fundamental foundation of the Reid Technique of Interrogation: Empathy and Understanding

The Reid Technique consists of a three-phase process beginning with Fact Analysis, followed by the Behavior Analysis Interview (which is a non-accusatory interview designed to develop investigative and behavioral information), followed by, when appropriate, the Reid Nine Steps of Interrogation.  While all subjects in an investigation are interviewed, very few are interrogated. 

Once it is determined by the investigative information that the subject is involved in the commission of the crime, the interrogation begins by advising the subject of the investigation results.  The investigator then begins to develop what we refer to as a theme in which we offer the subject a “moral excuse” for the suspect’s commission of the offense or minimizing the moral implications of the conduct. 


Click here for the Investigator Tip.

  8/31/2017The Legal Updates Summer 2017
The Legal UpdatesSummer 2017 column contains cases which address the following issues:

  • Objectionable interrogator tactics
  • Court allows testimony of false confession expert Dr. Richard Leo
  • Court limits the rebuttal testimony on false confession issues of Professor Paul G. Cassell to the testimony of Dr. Richard Leo
  • The language of the Miranda warnings – how precise does it have to be?
  • Court excludes the testimony of Dr. Charles Honts on false confession issues
  • Court excludes the testimony of Dr. Solomon Fulero because “it invades the province of the jury”
  • If the police have possession of the defendant’s car keys and cell phone, is he free to leave the station?
  • Defendant’s incriminating statements were inadmissible because the Miranda warnings were deliberately delayed
  • 13 factors to consider in determining whether a police interrogation was coercive
  • The value of video recording the interrogation
  • Does a subject have to be advised of his Miranda rights when questioned at a Fish, Wildlife and Park’s game check station?  No
  • Court emphasizes the need to exercise  “special caution” when assessing the voluntariness of juvenile confessions



Click here for updates.

  07/10/2017There are Good Interrogations and There are Bad Interrogations
The International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training published the following article , “There are Good Interrogations and There are Bad Interrogations” by Joseph P. Buckley, president of John E. Reid and Associates: 

Every day we read about law enforcement successfully solving criminal cases by a combination of talking to people; developing forensic evidence; interviewing and, when appropriate, interrogating suspects. In many cases, however, there is limited or no forensic evidence or witness testimony that implicates a specific person as the perpetrator so the investigators have to rely extensively on their interviewing skills to develop investigative information that can lead them to the offender.

Once the investigators make contact with the suspected offender, they will generally conduct a non-accusatory fact finding interview to develop investigative information, such as his activities at the time of the crime; his alibi; his relationship to the victim; his knowledge of the crime scene, etc. If the information developed during this interview and the subsequent investigation indicate the subject’s likely involvement in the commission of the crime, the investigators will initiate an interrogation. 
A good interrogation is characterized by the following elements:

Click here for the full article

  07/03/2017July - August 2017 Investigator Tip Cognitive Interviewing
Cognitive interviewing is a memory retrieval procedure designed to enhance recall when interviewing a victim or witness.  Unlike hypnosis, which involves placing the subject in an altered state of consciousness, cognitive interviewing relies on retrieving memories that are stored in different areas of the brain by cognitively stimulating various neural pathways.  This phenomenon is familiar to all of us.  A certain song, smell or taste may remind us of a memory long since forgotten.  On the drive home from an unfamiliar location, seeing one familiar object oftentimes stimulates recall of upcoming buildings, intersections or landscapes that would not otherwise be remembered.


Click here for the complete article.

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