What Do False Confession Experts Say in Their Reports?

Written By: Joseph P. Buckley
Nov 28, 2023

The following represents the type of observations, assessments and opinions Dr. Richard Leo (and other social psychologists) offer/include in their reports and testimony when they are acting on behalf of the defendant in a confession case:

  • The confession bears numerous indicia and hallmarks of unreliability and no indicia or hallmarks of reliability or trustworthiness.
  • The interrogation that led to this confession statement is consistent with the empirical social science research on the types of interrogation techniques, methods, and practices that explain how and why innocent individuals are often moved to make and/or agree to false and unreliable confessions.
  • The interrogation was psychologically coercive. It involved the use of psychologically coercive interrogation techniques, methods, and strategies that have been shown to cause suspects to perceive that they have no meaningful choice but to comply with the demands and requests of their interrogators, and thus lead to involuntary confessions.
  • The interrogation was guilt-presumptive, confirmatory, and confession-driven. The interrogation was structured to break down the subject’s denials of guilt and to incriminate him by pressuring and persuading him to agree with, and admit to, the investigators’ pre-existing and non-evidence based speculation that he (committed the act) The investigators’ guilt-presumptive interrogation was not structured to assess the reliability of any information the investigators learned from the subject, but to confirm their pre-existing theories.
  • The interrogation involved the use of psychological interrogation techniques, methods, and strategies that have been shown by social science research to increase the risk of eliciting false and unreliable statements, admissions and/or confessions (i.e., situational risk factors) when misapplied to the innocent. These included: a premature presumption of guilt based on a reckless disregard for the truth, false evidence ploys, minimization and maximization, threats, and promises.
  • The interrogation involved multiple instances of police interrogation contamination (i.e., leaking and disclosing non-public case facts) and police interrogation scripting (pressuring and persuading the suspect to accept the police narrative of how and why the alleged crime occurred), which increased the risk that the subject’s confession statement, would, misleadingly, appear to be accurate and self-corroborating.
  • The interrogation of this subject violated numerous police investigative and interrogation national training standards, protocols and commonly accepted best practices that existed in (year of interrogation)…….
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