Massachusetts Cop Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Subscribing Member
Joined
·
1,209 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
BOSTON -- Harshly criticizing the use of unrecorded criminal confessions, the state's highest court strongly discouraged police from taking statements without having a tape-recorder rolling.

While stopping just short of requiring police to record all interrogations, the Supreme Judicial Court said Monday that when police fail to record them, defendants will be entitled to a judge's instruction that the jury should weigh unrecorded statements "with great caution and care."

In a divided, 4-3 ruling, the court overturned an arson conviction in a case that relied heavily on the defendant's unrecorded statements.

Valerio DiGiambattista was convicted of burning down a Newton house owned by his former landlord in 1998. But the high court said DiGiambattista's confession should have been suppressed because police used trickery to obtain it and implied that he would receive leniency if he confessed. (AP)
 

·
Subscribing Member
Joined
·
308 Posts
leave it to this stupid state to come out with a non-decision like that. They wont tell police departments to record interviews, but they will suggest it and threaten to dismiss the case. Just another non-decision made by the peoples republic of assachusetts :roll:
 

·
Thread Killa
Joined
·
6,056 Posts
So essentially a cops word in court is no better than a criminals?
Officer: He confessed
Perp: I never confessed

Judge: Since they didn't get a recording of the confession, it really doesn't exist. Do whatever your heart tells you, you KNOW the police can't be trusted.

So what does that mean...police now have to carry video cameras with them at all times?
 

·
Subscribing Member
Joined
·
1,209 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Police wary of new pressure to tape interrogations
By Julie Manganis
Staff writer

SALEM - Three years ago, Salem lawyer John Hayes stood in front of a judge in Newburyport Superior Court and asked him to toss out his client's murder confession, in part because it had not been taped.

His client was drunk at the time, he argued, and didn't understand what he was doing - something that would have been clear to a judge or jury if the police interrogation had been recorded.

It was an unusual request at the time, and it was denied by the judge. Stephen Dagley went on to be convicted of first degree murder in the death of his girlfriend. The untaped confession is now one of the grounds for his appeal.

Last week, the state's highest court urged all police departments to start taping their interrogations, and decided jurors may consider whether confessions are credible if they haven't been taped.

Not only will that mean changes for police departments, it will mean fewer disputes over confessions like the one Hayes contested back in 2001.

"It's a recurring issue," said Hayes, a public defender who has raised the issue of taping interrogations a number of times. "Police will claim to have statements that the defendants either deny making or say they were forced or made promises to say it.

"In the vast majority of cases, where police are telling the truth, this will show that."

Defense lawyer Randy Chapman, a former Essex County prosecutor, said the more complete and accurate a record is, the better - for defense lawyers and prosecutors. And it will save time by eliminating many pretrial motions.

Still, some police officers are a little wary.

"I don't think it's a terribly bad idea, but I'm a little anxious about how it would work out," Middleton police Chief Paul Armitage said.

Learning to like it?

A Northwestern University study released in June found that police departments that taped interrogations in serious cases found overall that they actually came to like it, finding their cases were strengthened and that it saved money.

But Danvers police Capt. Neil Ouellette said taping interviews "would intimidate some suspects, who wouldn't want to talk if they know they're being recorded. Our goal is to get as much information as we can."

Defense lawyers have been allowed for nearly a decade to cross-examine police about why an interrogation was not recorded, and they can use that fact in their closing arguments. Last week's decision by the Supreme Judicial Court takes that a step further, by letting lawyers ask a judge to tell jurors that they can weigh the lack of a recording in their assessment of a statement's credibility.

Some police are concerned jurors might read too much into that.

Salem police Capt. Paul Tucker, who is also a lawyer, said such an instruction to jurors "almost raises the specter that the police could be lying."

And as a practical matter, Ouellette argued, not all police stations have equipment to record an interrogation, though defense lawyers argue that an inexpensive tape recorder or camcorder is all that is necessary.

"What happens if it breaks?" Ouellette countered. "Do we put an investigation on hold?"

But Armitage, the Middleton chief, believes that with a video, juries could see for themselves that the "stuff that you see on 'NYPD Blue' that supposedly goes on - taking people by the shirt and throwing them against the wall - that doesn't go on.

"Juries are more likely to convict if they believe everything was fair on both sides," Armitage said, "and using this, perhaps, will take any question out of their minds."

'Why not the best?'

Carlo Obligato, a lawyer who filed a brief in the arson case that led to the court decision last week, said police will still be able to question a suspect who doesn't want to be taped, and prosecutors will be able to tell jurors why there is no recording.

The public has come to expect sophisticated investigation in all other aspects of a criminal case, he said. They want the forensic evidence they see on crime shows like "CSI" or "Law and Order."

Given that a confession is "such an integral part of the case," Obligato argued, why not use the best available technology to record it?

Staff writer Julie Manganis can be reached at (978) 338-2521 or by e-mail at [email protected].
 

·
Subscribing Member
Joined
·
3,265 Posts
This is becoming a disgrace, an officer's word is obviously no more credible than a suspects. What defense attorneys are attempting to accomplish is to make it mandatory for the police to advise a suspect to "not say anything" therefore without a confession they can walk free. Confessions are many times the difference between having a case or not, so without a confession, defense attorneys win, so hopefully they can eliminate any opportunity to obtain one.

Lawyers and liberals are killing this country. :evil:
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top