Analyzing Videotaped Interrogations and Confessions

The Champion Magazine, (2016) Forthcoming

Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2016-14

12 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2016 Last revised: 17 May 2016

See all articles by Brian L. Cutler

Brian L. Cutler

Ontario Tech University

Richard A. Leo

University of San Francisco

Date Written: April 1, 2016


Recorded interrogations are one of the chief procedural reforms fueled by the innocence movement. Police departments in at least 20 states now require electronic recording of interrogations for specified felonies or all crimes. Recorded interrogations have the potential to make the playing field more level by inhibiting some of the more egregious interrogation tactics used by law enforcement and making interrogator-suspect interaction available for replay by fact finders. In this article, the authors predict that recorded interrogations may not make it perfectly obvious to fact finders that any defendant -- regardless of age, intelligence, or mental health -- may cave to the coercive pressure of an interrogation and the interrogator’s unrelenting demands for a confession. Defense attorneys will need to become familiar with the techniques and social psychology of interrogation so that they can identify persuasion at best and coercion at worse and explain a suspect’s decision to confess. The authors describe the tactics and psychology of modern interrogation so that defense attorneys can better assess the reliability of recorded confessions.

Keywords: videotaped interrogation, recorded interrogation, law enforcement, police, wrongful convictions, false confessions, criminal law

Suggested Citation

Cutler, Brian L. and Leo, Richard A., Analyzing Videotaped Interrogations and Confessions (April 1, 2016). The Champion Magazine, (2016) Forthcoming, Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2016-14, Available at SSRN:

Brian L. Cutler

Ontario Tech University ( email )

2000 Simcoe Street
Oshawa, Ontario L1G0C5


Richard A. Leo (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

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