Making the List and Checking it Twice

By |December 24th, 2015|Categories: crime, False Confessions, PEACE in America, taped confessions||Comments Off on Making the List and Checking it Twice




Bobby Johnson will celebrate his first Christmas with family in 9 years. He and Kwami made the HuffPo list for 2015

Coerced Confessions

By |September 6th, 2015|Categories: crime, False Confessions, justice, Uncategorized||Comments Off on Coerced Confessions


On August 1, 2006 Herbert Fields was robbed, shot and killed as he sat in his car in a not so good neighborhood of New Haven, CT. The killers ran to the next intersection and veered to the right towards where they lived. A few days later, the police asked to see if the prints on the vehicle belonged to a suspected shooter or the young man that knew Mr. Fields was flush with cash and had set up that place and time to meet and receive a small loan.

A month later, the suspected shooter was found dead in possession of the gun that killed Fields and had been used in other two murders just prior to the Field’s killing.

Forty-five days after that, an upside down palm print on the passenger side of the car came back to the suspected shooter’s cousin whom he lived with. Both had significant contacts with the police. Both matched the general description of the witnesses.This was the evidence.

Yet, all this was ignored, when some very questionable informants and the alleged illegal use of Confidential Informant money somehow led the detectives to the men pictured with me. The connections were tenuous at best.  A third boy, Michael Holmes was coerced into giving a statement against Bobby Johnson to my left and Kwami Wells-Jordan on my right. Coerced confessions  by Bobby and Kwami were used against each other along with Holmes’ statement. None of the boys had a lawyer present when they were badgered for hours. One was threatened with the death penalty, if he didn’t confess and was told he would just get 10 years probation, if he put himself and the other boy at the scene. The other […]

Swimming Upstream

By |January 5th, 2015|Categories: False Confessions||Comments Off on Swimming Upstream

I was so stunned, that I had to read this article twice before I understood its true meaning. The Suffolk County District Attorney in Boston, Massachusetts brought PEACE to America. It’s the first instance that I am aware of this interview and interrogation technique, developed over 30 years ago in the UK, being taught here in the United States.

PEACE combines both legal and ethical techniques.  Previously, this forward-thinking prosecutor had experts come in to talk to his Trial and Homicide units about  False Confessions.

Reading between the lines of this article brings me to a logical conclusion. If certain methods of legal, although not always ethical interrogations  produce false confessions, this is how would he fill the void if he discouraged the use of false-confession producing techniques.

I will keep you posted on his progress.

In the same Google Alert, I then read how some of the boys n’ girls in blue in Austin, TX are not going with the flow for transparency in the interrogation process. This summer, I blogged about how then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a memorandum to all Federal LEO about recording all interrogations and serious interviews. I also blogged about the need to record all custodial interviews. Otherwise, the stuff that goes on before the final recorded event never sees the light of day in a courtroom.

Maybe it’s just that their patrol officers are camera shy. Antonio Buehler, a Stanford and West Point Grad, was acquitted after a four day trial on misdemeanor charges stemming from his filming of a street arrest in the Texas capital with his smart phone.

I try to focus on investigative interviewing technique, false witness/false confession wrongful convictions, but to have the same PD fighting against […]

Eyewitness Recall, Maybe

By |December 5th, 2014|Categories: justice||Comments Off on Eyewitness Recall, Maybe

The article in quotes the Elizabeth Loftus studies on recall to help explain why the witnesses in the Michael Brown shooting were all over the map on describing what happened that fateful day in Ferguson, MO.

“In announcing that police officer Darren Wilson would not be charged for shooting Michael Brown, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch talked a lot about eyewitness testimony: how witnesses’ accounts had changed or been inconsistent with physical evidence, and how some eventually admitted they hadn’t actually seen the shooting.

When asked whether he thought these witnesses had lied, he said: “I think there are a number of witnesses in all honesty that truly believed what they said,” McCullough said. “I think they truly believe that that’s what they saw. But they didn’t.”

It’s impossible to say whether, in this case, McCullough is right. But since the 1970s, psychologists have conducted studies on eyewitness testimony.  And consistently, they’ve found it to be a shaky form of evidence.”

Newsweek quotes a Prominent Criminal Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman who has successfully defended high-profile clients such as rap mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs and former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, tells Newsweek that “witnesses who see a startling or frightening event often get it wrong or assume things that may not be accurate, and when you add to the equation the very strong emotions in a case like this, it complicates matters dramatically because people want to testify.”

I interview people everyday that are witnesses to crimes or serious accidents. How do I know that they are giving me an accurate representation of the events? I don’t have a magic ball and am not very good at reading tea leaves.

I rely on the fundamentals of […]

YES, THIS SH– REALLY DOES HAPPEN. (Language, viewer discretion advised.)

By |October 17th, 2014|Categories: False Confessions, justice||Comments Off on YES, THIS SH– REALLY DOES HAPPEN. (Language, viewer discretion advised.)

The Wire was probably one of the most realistic shows when it came to police procedure.

So take this same procedure, introduce some crime scene photos, the murder weapon and information that only the police know. Then (un)knowingly induce a false confession that can be rehearsed until the statement is made on video. Show that video to the other suspect. Repeat the technique and you get two false confessions implicating each other.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years.”, he remarked as he readied his cigar to smoke.

Do you see how easy it is make two false confessions? What public defender would want those videos shown to a jury?

Now what if the “pre-interviews” were videotaped and made available under discovery? The legal, but arguably unethical interrogation techniques would be seen in the light of the courtroom. How would a jury react when they see these techniques?

I’ll let you decide.

What do you think?

Kings of the Courtroom

By |October 10th, 2014|Categories: crime, justice||Comments Off on Kings of the Courtroom

Gosh ‘n Golly boys and girls, I get goosebumps when my blogs are validated. The Economist’s October 4, 2014 article covered some of the same points from Putting Band-aids on Broken Leg- Conviction Integrity Units (CIU) , East Meets West, and Lights, Camera Action when they talked about how prosecutors have come to dominate the criminal-justice system. With that dominance, comes the potential for abuse.
On plea bargains concluding 95% of criminal cases, “Jed Rakoff, a district judge in New York, thinks its unlikely that 95% of defendants are guilty. Of the 2.4 million Americans behind bars, he thinks that it possible that “thousands,perhaps tens of thousands” confess despite being innocent.” The plea deal is managing risk, while getting hammered with a longer sentence after being found guilty is not.
On False Testimony, “A Study by Northwestern University Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions found that 46% of documented wrongful capital convictions between 1973 and 2004 could be traced to false testimony by snitches-making them the leading cause of wrongful convictions in Death Penalty cases.”


By |October 3rd, 2014|Categories: False Confessions||Comments Off on “HOW THEY MADE ME CONFESS”
Henry Lee McCollum talks about his false confession and what went on in the interrogation room. The video was edited but does a fairly good job of explaining the chronology of events and why he confessed. The young man with a low IQ, had never been questioned in a police station before and was visiting family out of state, when he made up a story to stop the interrogation. You can see and hear how his recall of that fateful day had been burned into his memory. That decision to give the cops what they wanted, to sign on confession which included information only the police knew, cost him dearly. I had blogged on these reasons before, but didn’t have such a rich video to use as an example. DNA cleared he and his brother of any wrongdoing, but not before he spent most of his life on Death Row and not until after a US Supreme Court Judge used him as a poster boy for why there should be a death penalty delivered by lethal injection. Just imagine that you are on Death Row for a crime you didn’t commit and a US Supreme Court Justice uses you as an example why there should be a death penalty. Watch the video and you get a glimpse on how this man stayed sane in an insane situation.



“In 1994, conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who has stated that no innocent person has ever been executed, cited the heinous nature of victim’s rape and murder as proof that McCollum deserved to die by lethal injection. Scalia wrote that lethal injection, which recently caused agonizing deaths in multiple botched executions, would be an “enviable” way for […]

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