Promoting Accuracy in the Use of Confession Evidence: An Argument for Pretrial Reliability Assessments to Prevent Wrongful Convictions
81 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2013 Last revised: 2 Nov 2013
Date Written: February 1, 2013
This article argues that constitutional criminal procedure rules provide insufficient safeguards against the admissibility of false confession evidence that is the product of police contamination. We propose a specific framework, as well as several possible mechanisms, for courts to review and screen the reliability of confession evidence prior to trial. We also offer specific suggestions for how pre-trial reliability assessments for confession evidence could effectively and efficiently work in practice. Finally, we respond to several possible objections to the idea of pre-trial reliability assessments, underscoring that in a variety of contexts trial judges – consistent with their traditional gate keeping role – already routinely prevent evidence with sufficient indicia of unreliability from going to the jury.
Keywords: wrongful conviction, false confession, police contamination, criminal procedure, criminal law, constitutional law, evidence, federal rules of evidence, reliability
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