Read and summarize the two articles (Kassin and Scott-Heyward) and watch the confession and interrogation of Antron Mccray
Prepare an outline of the about 10 questions you would like to pose to the interrogating officer to show the jury why your client’s confession might be involuntary. Add a brief explanation following each question showing how it integrates with some aspect of one of the articles above and the particular aspects of your client and his case.
Many juvenile confessions have proven to be false. Unfortunately, the DNA used to exonerate some of the wrongly convicted individuals emerge after they have served weeks, months, or even years behind bars. “Central Park Five – Antron McCray Full Video Confession (2008)” and Scott-Hayward’s (2007) article provide evidence of teenagers who have been wrongfully convicted only for evidence to emerge later to exonerate them. Kassin’s (2008) article reveals some of the reasons that juveniles make false confessions that are used in court to convict them. Information from the film and the articles provide insight that a defense attorney can use question an interrogating officer to prove to a jury that the client’s confession might be involuntary.
- What is the age of the juvenile suspect(s)?
Age and intelligence play an essential role in a false confession. Interrogating officers use the developmental limitation of young suspects to get them to confess, which is one of the factors that led to the confession of the five suspects in the Central Park Jogger case. Scott-Hayward’s (2007) also suggests the role of juvenile developmental capability in false confessions. Understanding the age of the suspect can help to understand the nature of the confession.
- Was the confession obtained in the presence of a parent or guardian?
In a case in which the interrogating officer obtains a confession in the absence of a parent or guardian, the risk of false confession occurs. Kassin (2008) suggests that false confessions are common if erroneous tactics are used. In the absence of a guardian, they leave the room for manipulation and potential false confession.
- Did you have any other evidence to substantiate the confession?
Most of the false confessions lack any other evidence to prove their validity. For example, in the video, “Central Park Five,” the interrogating officers did not provide DNA evidence during the court hearing because the DNA found in and on the victim did not match the suspects. As a result, the jury relied on the confession only, which was erroneous.
- Why did you suspect my client as the one involved in the crime?
The question will help to establish the reason for the suspicion that the client was the one who committed the crime. Scott-Hayward (2007) poses the question in the article, wondering why the police were convinced that Allen Chesnet murdered in his neighborhood. The interrogating officer should be able to support his suspicion before getting and validating the confession.
- Was your interrogation constitutional?
The question seeks to show whether the interrogating officer obtained the confession legally. For example, confessions conducted without a legal representative could be unconstitutional. Kassin (2008) also suggests that the use of illegal tactics, such as torture, makes a confession unlawful. Generally, the defense attorney can prove the illegality of the juvenile confession through the questioning process.
- What is the status of my client during the interrogation?
The question seeks to establish the vulnerability of the juvenile suspect to making a wrongful confession. For example, if the suspect was afraid and anxious during the interrogation, he or she is most likely to confess to a crime that he or she did not commit. Kassin (2008) reveals that some confessions are due to specific interrogation tactics or dispositional suspect vulnerabilities.
- Did the client provide essential details about the case?
Young people can give erroneous information of they cannot remember the details of an incident. Developmental psychologists blame it on the developmental limitation of the mind of the adolescent (Scott-Hayward, 2007). Therefore, the interrogating officer should be entirely sure that the client remembered details of events and that he or she can provide such details along with the confession.
- Did the interrogation take place in isolation?
Experience reveals that interrogations that occur in isolation are most prone to a false confession. The question relates to Kassin’s (2008) idea of wrong tactics used by the interrogating officers to get a confession. In some cases, the juvenile suspects agree that they were coerced to confess to a crime they did not commit.
- How did you get the information about the crime and suspect?
The nature of interrogation and possible confession emanates from erroneous judgments of truth and deception (Kassin). For example, in the case of Allen Chesnet, a reporter tipped off the police after finding the boy bleeding during the investigation of a murder case in the neighborhood (Scott-Hayward, 2007). The source of information can help to know what led to the confession.
- What kind of tactics led to the confession?
The question aims at establishing whether the interrogating officer used any illegal or wrongful tactic to get the confession. It is vital to establish from the officer how he or she rates his interrogation approach that led to the confession.
False confessions are common in the juvenile justice system. Many of the cases are proven later using DNA evidence. Therefore, the justice system should improve questioning and investigations involving juvenile suspects to prevent a continued miscarriage of justice.
Central Park Five – Antron McC ray Full Video Confession (2008). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0py3G0tIUFI&feature=emb_logo
Kassin, S. M. (2008). False confessions: Causes, consequences, and implications for reform. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(4), 249-253.
Scott-Hayward, C. S. (2007). Explaining juvenile false confessions: Adolescent development and policy interrogation. Law & Psychol. Rev., 31, 53.