News 04.03.12

False Confession Experts Now Allowed to Testify in New York State

New York’s highest court ruled on Thursday to permit testimony from false confession experts at trial when the evidence is relevant to the case. Still, it remains to be seen how often courts will find that is evidence sufficiently relevant.


The ruling may encourage New York State legislators to pass a law that would mandate the video recording of police interrogations, which the Innocence Project has advocated for years. This, and other wrongful conviction reforms, took a back seat to DNA database expansion in the legislature for this session. The New York Times reports:

In her 21-page opinion, Judge Read also acknowledged what has become a hot-button issue at the Capitol: the videotaping of police interrogations.


“While electronic recording of interrogations should facilitate the discovery of false confession and is becoming standard police practice, the neglect to record is not a factor or circumstance that might induce a false confession,” she wrote.


Peter J. Neufeld, a co-director of the Innocence Project, said he hoped that acknowledgment would spur the State Legislature to act on a proposed measure to require the videotaping of all interrogations, one of the key pieces of legislation that defense lawyers are promoting.

Nationwide, 28% of the DNA exonerations involved a false confession or admission. In New York State, the percent is even higher at 44%.


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