Donald S. Connery, an author and adviser to the Northwestern Law School Center on Wrongful Convictions aired his frustrations at the state supreme court and legislators this week in the Hartford Courant. The Court, he said, missed another opportunity to move towards mandating the recording of police interrogations, something that’s recognized by many as the foolproof method for preventing false confessions and safeguarding just convictions.
According to his commentary, the court recognized that it would be beneficial to know how law enforcement obtained their confessions but said, in essence, don’t look to us to change anything. Instead, the court defers to the legislator to make sweeping changes—something Connery says is a lost cause.
His disheartened attitude is due to him seeing such legislation fail again and again. The failure of such bills is largely due to misconceptions about what this simple policy change would mean.
A large percentage of wrongful convictions are tainted by a false confession. Recordings of police interrogations and confessions would show just how these situations are played out and uncover any leading or convincing done by the police when, in fact, the suspect is innocent.
Also, recorded interrogations would effectively limit appeals based on interrogation circumstances in cases where the conviction was appropriate.
It simply makes no sense that the police can record you when they pull you over or even when you’re walking down the street in some cities, but you cannot have a recording of a police interrogation when your rights are on the line. A simple camera would likely save the state millions in legal fees defending themselves from lawsuits and preventing baseless appeals and unwarranted convictions.
But as Connery says, “legislators are loath to challenge top cops”. Again and again the law makers believe what they are told by law enforcement and the state attorney’s office—that recording these secret confessions would somehow hinder their ability to catch the bad guy.
If you’ve ever been interrogated, you know it can be stressful. And it seems like the more serious the charge, the more intense the questioning is. However, even if they don’t say it: you have a right to talk to an attorney before answering their questions.
A defense attorney can help you determine the best course of action for your case. Many people think that invoking their right to an attorney will make them look guilty. Not so—invoking your right to an attorney makes you look informed.
If you’re facing charges and need some questions answered by a local defense attorney in Connecticut, I can help. Contact me today for a free consultation on your case.