False Confessions and the Constitution: Problems, Possibilities and Solutions
Richard A. Leo
University of San Francisco - School of Law
THE CONSTITUTION IN 2020: THE FUTURE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN AMERICA, John T. Parry & L. Song Richardson, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2013
Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2013-06
This chapter reviews some of the main empirical findings from more than three decades of social science research on the causes, consequences and indicia of police-induced false confessions. The author couches this discussion in the context of the three sequential errors -- misclassification, coercion and contamination -- that occur in virtually all police-induced false confessions and that combine to create the powerful, but erroneous, appearance that a false confession is true and persuasive, sometimes leading to a wrongful conviction. This chapter also reviews the constitutional law of criminal procedure governing the admissibility of confession evidence in American courts. The author argues that this body of law fails both to meaningfully protect suspects against interrogation methods that cause false confessions and to prevent the use of false confession evidence against them at trial. The chapter concludes with the recommendation that the United States Supreme Court should interpret the Fourteenth Amendment as independently allowing courts to exclude unreliable confession evidence on due process grounds alone and/or create a different doctrinal mechanism for courts to exclude false confession evidence prior to trial.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Keywords: false confession, police interrogation, criminal procedure, constitutional law, Fourteenth AmendmentAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: July 12, 2012 ; Last revised: January 30, 2013
© 2013 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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