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False Confessions

False Confessions: A Review of 2014

Steve Drizin | Posted 12.18.2014 | Crime
Steve Drizin

2014 was a landmark year in false confessions. Here's my year-end list of highlights.

Amazing Grace

Steve Drizin | Posted 12.20.2014 | Crime
Steve Drizin

In my life as a lawyer, I've been privileged to play a role in exonerating a number of innocent men and women. But last week, as I sat in a Brooklyn courtroom, waiting for State Supreme Court Judge Matthew J. D'Emic to vacate the convictions of David McCallum and Willie Stuckey, I knew I was witnessing something special.

Police in Death Penalty States Must Be Required to Record Interrogations

Steve Drizin | Posted 11.23.2014 | Crime
Steve Drizin

The recent exonerations of Leon Brown and Henry Lee McCollum in North Carolina again underscore the need to require police to record interrogations of suspects.

The Truth About False Confessions

Jessica S. Henry | Posted 11.22.2014 | Crime
Jessica S. Henry

It is hard -- near impossible -- for most of us to believe that innocent people sometime falsely confess to committing horrible crimes. In fact, most people insist that they would never confess to a murder or rape that they did not commit. Not under any circumstances. But Henry Lee McCollum did.

Northwestern and Michigan Are Partners in the Pursuit of Justice for the Wrongfully Convicted

Steve Drizin | Posted 10.20.2014 | Crime
Steve Drizin

Although Michigan and Northwestern may battle one another in Big Ten sports, although our universities may fight each other for the best and the brightest students, we have become powerful partners in the pursuit of justice.

The Central Park $40 Million

Thea Johnson | Posted 08.27.2014 | Crime
Thea Johnson

The payoff for the rest of us will come if the very expensive lessons learned from the case prevent this kind of injustice from happening again.

Knox and Sollecito: Victims of a Prosecutor's 'Conspiracy Theories' to Explain Away DNA

Steve Drizin | Posted 04.14.2014 | Crime
Steve Drizin

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are innocent of Meredith Kercher's murder. The easiest way for us to clarify their innocence is to examine the case in the context of our work on false confessions and the lessons we have learned from working in the Innocence Movement.

Guiltless Guilty Pleas

Joel Cohen | Posted 04.02.2014 | Crime
Joel Cohen

The dirty little secret in the administration of criminal justice is that sometimes -- indeed, way too often -- innocent people plead guilty.

All Eyes Will Be on New York in 2014 When It Comes to Police Interrogations and False Confessions

Steve Drizin | Posted 03.11.2014 | Crime
Steve Drizin

The New York Court of Appeals is a bellwether court, meaning that High Court's decisions in Aveni and Thomas are bound to have influence well beyond New York's borders. I'm hoping that the Court not only provides justice for Messrs. Aveni and Thomas, but crafts its decision in a way that helps to prevent future coerced and false confessions.

False Confessions: A Review of 2013

Steve Drizin | Posted 03.04.2014 | Crime
Steve Drizin

Here's wishing a Happy New Year to all innocent men and women who remain in prison as a result of false confessions or who have yet to be exonerated. May 2014 bring you the justice you so richly deserve.

Philly Finally Makes Good On a Promise to Record Interrogations and Confessions

Steve Drizin | Posted 02.21.2014 | Crime
Steve Drizin

The failure to record entire interrogations left police officers open to allegations of abuse, and over the years has led some Philly judges to toss out confessions and other juries to acquit potentially guilty defendants when defendants have claimed they were coerced.

Will the 'The Big Apple' Trump 'The Windy City' When It Comes to False Confessions?

Steve Drizin | Posted 02.04.2014 | Crime
Steve Drizin

Anxious detectives did not have the luxury of waiting for DNA results. Their orders were to close cases. The easiest way for them to do that was to pressure witnesses to make identifications, coerce confessions from suspects, or rely on snitches.

Confession Contamination in Cook County: Demonizing Youth in False Confession Narratives

Steve Drizin | Posted 01.25.2014 | Chicago
Steve Drizin

In Cook County's juvenile false confession cases, police officers and prosecutors have taken confession contamination to a new level. Not only did they feed facts to suspects, they scripted entire narratives for them.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning's Fall From Grace

Steve Drizin | Posted 01.23.2014 | Crime
Steve Drizin

There is nothing honorable about the way in which the Nebraska officers bullied a mentally impaired man into falsely confessing to a double murder. Mr. Bruning should be insisting that the Livers interrogation be required viewing for every law enforcement officer in Nebraska.

False Confession Case Should Lead Federal Investigative Agencies to Start Recording Suspects' Interrogations

Steve Drizin | Posted 01.23.2014 | Crime
Steve Drizin

Today, the FBI and most other federal investigatory agencies are out of tune with the current best practice for interrogating suspects who are under arrest and in custody: recording interrogations electronically, preferably on video, to capture exactly what was said and done during closed-door interviews.

The Death of Innocents

David Protess | Posted 11.02.2013 | Chicago
David Protess

For the first time in 35 years, Anthony McKinney was no longer in the custody of the State. Since 1978, McKinney had been imprisoned at the Dixon Correctional Center despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence. But death proved to be his only way out.

Did Political Clout Subvert Justice in Wrongful Conviction Case?

David Protess | Posted 10.19.2013 | Chicago
David Protess

After spending most of his 59 years behind bars for a crime he almost certainly did not commit, Stanley Wrice could finally taste freedom. Everything was going his way -- or so it seemed.

Police Torture Victim Beats City Hall But Cuffed by Suburban Cops

David Protess | Posted 10.01.2013 | Chicago
David Protess

Eric Caine had millions of reasons to smile, so why the glum expression when we met at our favorite eatery on July 25? The previous day, the Chicago City Council had approved a $10 million settlement of his lawsuit against Comdr. Jon Burge and the cops who tortured him into falsely confessing to a double murder in 1986.

Daley Subpoenaed in Police Torture Scandal -- Will He Finally Testify?

David Protess | Posted 09.15.2013 | Chicago
David Protess

Forcing the powers-that-be to tell is the truth is an effective way to further blot the stain of the Burge era. That won't happen if Daley continues to play dodgeball. But, from what it appears at this point, that game is nearly over.

Tables Turned at Wrongful Conviction Hearing

David Protess | Posted 08.18.2013 | Chicago
David Protess

The anticipation was palpable on Monday as Judge Maura Slattery Boyle ascended to the bench. Two prisoners had waited 20 years for this moment: a showdown with the Chicago cop they claimed had framed them, and the jailhouse snitch he had allegedly recruited for the job.

A Tale of Two Snitches

David Protess | Posted 08.10.2013 | Chicago
David Protess

For two decades, Armando Serrano and Jose Montanez have professed their innocence. Surprisingly, their fight for freedom has been bolstered by their former accusers.

Wrongful Conviction Hearing a Revelation

David Protess | Posted 07.20.2013 | Chicago
David Protess

Truth be told, slurs are common around the water cooler, reflecting a dehumanizing view of criminal defendants that comes from years of locking them up, one person of color at a time.

Police Scandal Eludes Media Radar

David Protess | Posted 07.14.2013 | Chicago
David Protess

A 20-year fight for freedom by two Northwest Side Chicago men will culminate tomorrow in a hearing on allegations they were railroaded.

Costs Spiral in Police Torture Scandal

David Protess | Posted 06.01.2013 | Chicago
David Protess

Eric Caine was wary of man's best friend, but he took a job as a dog-walker because he needed the money. Besides, work was hard to come by for a 45-year-old just released from prison after 25 years -- even though he hadn't committed the crime.

Prosecutors Hid Proof of Teen's Unusual Alibi in Murder Case

David Protess | Posted 04.06.2013 | Chicago
David Protess

Daniel Taylor is now 37-years-old. Having spent more than half of his life behind bars, there's no place like home for Taylor -- and no place like prison for the prosecutors who stole his youth.