An Article in PI Magazine that Provides a Comprehensive Look at P.E.A.C.E

By |September 10th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||Comments Off on An Article in PI Magazine that Provides a Comprehensive Look at P.E.A.C.E

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 […]

American PI Podcast

By |June 16th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized||Comments Off on American PI Podcast

Great friend Paul Jaeb has me on his podcast as a recurring guest. We met at the FALI conference in Coco Beach Florida and he wanted to talk about the Department of What Happened.

Listen here:

Cognitive Interviewing in Connecticut

By |December 3rd, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||Comments Off on Cognitive Interviewing in Connecticut

“Its not about my questions, Its about their story.”

That’s how John A. Hoda started his presentation on Cognitive Interviewing with those gathered for food and fellowship on November 5th at the CT Association of Licensed Private Investigator’s (CALPI) meeting at the Waverly Inn in Cheshire.


By |September 19th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||Comments Off on MISTER BIG WANTS YOU!


I had to read this article twice before I could wrap my head around the significance of what was being reported.

But first you need a little background.

In 1984, England and Wales adopted ethical interviewing rules to reduce false confessions with the Police and Criminal Evidence act

The PEACE model of ethical interviewing became the standard throughout the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. This method was created to fill the vacuum left by wide-ranging interrogation techniques and to ensure a singular method that would allow admissible statements and confessions. I guess that method wasn’t producing enough success for our Northern neighbors.

Enter Mr. Big. He’s a crime boss. You are a suspect in an unsolved crime or an event thought to be crime. The good guys in Canada create an elaborate sting where you must prove yourself worthy of working for Mr. Big and talk about your criminal acts. Hopefully, you will spill the beans and give them information that only the Perp would know about the heinous act they suspect you of committing. That is the whole purpose of the sting. Kinda like a job interview, but not quite an audition or like initiation to get into an American gang. That would be really really wrong. So instead of coercive techniques like lying, deceit, creating themes to explain your felonious behavior and applying suffocating pressure to confess, They lie to you about there being a Mr. Big and offer incentives to join his gang.

Let’s pause for a second. Do you know anybody that ever lied on a resume’, pretended to be a college graduate, or exaggerated their work accomplishments? What about doing or saying things into order to secure a membership in […]

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Interviews YouTube Playlist

By |September 12th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||Comments Off on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Interviews YouTube Playlist

I can talk about interviewing or I can show you interviewing. What I like about these clips is the interviewer getting out of the way and letting the witnesses talk and talk and talk, but each in their own unique ways recall from memory the facts of “What Happened” The last interviewer guided the interview to secure more facts, but used a combination of open-ened questions and questions asking for a recall from her emotions. Enjoy!

Putting Band-Aids on a Broken Leg- Conviction Integrity Units

By |September 2nd, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||Comments Off on Putting Band-Aids on a Broken Leg- Conviction Integrity Units

There are only 12 CIUs in the country. They were created to address years of prosecutorial and/or police abuses endemic to that community. There are 3300 counties in the United States. Add  State courts  the Federal system and Tribal courts and you have only microscopic percentage of prosecutor’s offices dedicating staff to this valuable check and balance.

Two of the most notable ones have recently made headlines for their proactive approaches. Brooklyn prosecutors examining old homicide cases for improprieties have found 14 more for review. The newly uncovered cases bring to 71 the number of cases connected to former police detective Louis Scarcella.The New York Times  says they came to light as investigators considered different spellings of Scarcella’s name. Investigators also considered cases on which Scarcella’s longtime partner was listed as the lead detective.Since taking office in January, District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has intensified the work of his predecessor’s conviction review unit. He’s re-examining 90 cases from the 1980s and 1990s to determine if there were wrongful convictions. Most stem from concerns about Scarcella’s investigative tactics. The review so far has resulted in seven convictions being vacated.Scarcella has denied any wrongdoing.In Dallas, The DA Craig Watkins has done something incredibly unique. His office did a review of the DNA in old rape kits. They found that Michael Phelps, who pled guilty, rather than go to trial and face a possibly far greater sentence, got released after serving twelve years in jail, was found innocent when the DNA matched another man who had the means and opportunity to commit the crime. Mr. Phelps was mistakenly identified by the victim, but his DNA was never tested.This was the first time that a DNA review was initiated by the […]

Poor Bessie

By |August 22nd, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||Comments Off on Poor Bessie

A couple of weeks ago, I was riding with my wife in her car, and we were listening to her favorite radio station. A preacher by the name of Ron Hutchcraft came on and told a funny story with a gospel message about active listening. We laughed at the story, but it really drove home the message of being active listeners.

• Listen to the whole story the person is telling you.
• They have their own way of recalling the facts, be patient.
• Much easier to listen with your ears when your mouth is not in gear.
• Listen not only with your ears, but with your heart. You will get on their wavelength sooner.
• A person will open up more to a listener that cares about what is being said.

• If you are taking notes, write them down like you are listening to a teacher giving you the test answers for tomorrow’s quiz.
• Write the notes so that you can summarize the story back to them. This is to check for accuracy. You’d be surprised by what you thought you heard.
• the subject is watching you to see if you are paying attention. Your non-verbal clues will give your interest level away.
• Impatiently interrupt or act bored and see how fast the person shuts down on you.

You will be amazed if you let the person tell you the whole story what you may actually learn, like they did with poor ole Bessie.

What tips do you have for better listening?


By |August 11th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on EAST MEETS WEST

Thirty years ago, the UK began taping interrogations following a spate of false confessions. In the US, taping had started sporadically on the state and local level.  Recently, US Attorney General Eric Holder mandated that all Federal LEO begin taping important in-custody interrogations and important interviews.

Now we hear from Japan that their Diet may take up legislation mandating taping of all interrogations because of false confessions.  What really struck me in the article is that this entire densely populated island nation has as many violent crimes as one medium to large metro area in America.

Okay, I know the arguments about our different cultures and other factors, but it just made me realize that if just one US metro area starting taping all its interrogations, one could extrapolate, from the data, the effectiveness of these procedures in reducing false confessions and wrongful convictions versus the numbers in other metropolitan areas. We, as a nation would be comparing apples to apples and not to fish n’ chips or to sushi. Not a great analogy, but hey, it’s getting close to dinnertime as I write this and I am hungry.

Both our friends, from across separate oceans and two very different cultures, agree that they must curb unethical interviewing/interrogation practices that produce false confessions. The conclusion drawn here is that investigative process, with the potential of creating false confessions, has to become more transparent.

What do you think?

Lights. Camera. Action.

By |August 1st, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized||Comments Off on Lights. Camera. Action.



In May (2014), Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder announced a new policy ending years of Federal Law Enforcement NOT recording important interviews and confessions.

The three minute plus video is worth watching and actively listening to.  This is a huge step towards Ethical Interviewing and it is to be applauded.


John Grisham in his recent fiction novel, The Racketeer, dramatized an unrecorded interrogation that resulted in a false confession in the Federal System. The fictional “motion to suppress” summarized the facts as:


1)     The defendant wanted repeatedly to talk to a lawyer and was denied.
2)     Defendant was repeatedly threatened with the death penalty.
3)     Defendant would not be put on trial for capital murder, if he confessed.
4)     Agents threatened to prosecute other members of the defendant’s family.
5)     Agents were abusive and pushed the suspect past the point of exhaustion.
6)     Agents lied about a ballistic report, agents lied about a crime scene boot print and lied about witnesses putting the suspect in the general vicinity. Even though, it is legal for Law Enforcement to lie during an interrogation.

Boy, that Grisham sure can write. Where does he get this stuff?

So, after July 15th, unless there is a damn good excuse, these interview/interrogations will be recorded. With all the Homeland Security money floating around, it will be hard to understand why the technology and hardware can’t get installed in a reasonable amount of time. Heck, propping up a smart phone and pressing play on the video or voice memo will work in the pinch.

I am sure there will be a learning curve here. The old dogs will have to learn new tricks.

Local and State Law Enforcement in some jurisdictions have been taping custodial interviews/interrogations for […]

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