Blog archive

We Participate In:

What I should have said was nothing: The disaster of a false confession

Monday, January 11, 2010
posted by Douglas Keene

Vaughan Bell at Mind Hacks blog (one of our favorites) discusses an article in the APS Observer on the psychology and power of false confessions. The article itself is a good read that points out the many reasons for false confessions.  It then shifts to a discussion of how lay persons and experts modify their own opinions after learning about confessions. In brief (and you really do want to read the full article) they found that lay people (read ‘jurors’) and experts (read ‘expert witnesses’, ‘forensic experts’) change their evaluation of the non-confession evidence (the other evidence presented) and see it as stronger evidence against the accused.

Situationist Blog also comments on this research quoting the primary author saying ““the most common reaction I get from a lay audience is, ‘Well, I would never do that. I would never confess to something I didn’t do.’ And people apply that logic in the jury room. It’s just that basic belief that false confessions don’t occur.”

This is potentially deadly. We ‘see’ evidence differently if we know someone has confessed. The Innocence Project has hard data on the relationship of false confession to wrongful conviction. But what do you say to jurors?

  • If you can’t keep the confession out via a motion in limine, you have an uphill climb.
  • You can show them evidence of false confessions and how they are coerced.
  • You can teach them about the powerfully biasing effects of a false confession.
  • And you can tell them about the Innocence Project’s numbers on how often we wrongfully convict based on false convictions. Ask them to look at the evidence. If they didn’t have that confession, would they convict?
Share


10 Responses to “What I should have said was nothing: The disaster of a false confession”

  1. Blawg you should be reading: The Jury Room http://t.co/emswqoc — Today's topic – does Black + Gay = Likeable?

  2. Paul Birch says:

    RT @changingminds: Keene Trial Consulting's 'Jury Room' — blog on persuading juries: http://lnkd.in/Cbs7W9

  3. Dave Straker says:

    Keene Trial Consulting's 'Jury Room' — blog on persuading juries: http://lnkd.in/Cbs7W9

  4. Alex Proaps says:

    @pourbrew Came across this blog tonight while looking at researchblogging.com under Psychology. http://bit.ly/zX49W

  5. We invite you to visit our firm blog (The Jury Room) for litigation advocacy ideas at http://keenetrial.com/blog/ (via @KeeneTrial)

  6. RT @keenetrial Simple Jury Persuasion: She reminds me of my Grandmother… http://bit.ly/9by8RI

  7. RT @KeeneTrial: Launching new blog feature Monday: Voir Dire Clinic (send us cases 4 voir dire question ideas) http://bit.ly/1YnQ4O / cool

  8. RT @KeeneTrial: New blog post: We act as we believe others expect us 2 act (clues 4 appearing confident in voir dire) http://bit.ly/1YnQ4O

  9. RT @Eline_Kullock: Generation Y: Just the facts http://migre.me/fTaM #millennials #geny

  10. RT @KeeneTrial: New blog post: Simple Persuasion Strategies: The Alpha & Omega Persuasion tactics http://bit.ly/U0rhA

Leave a Reply