Defendant claims confession was coerced because interrogator was sympathetic, understanding and tried to justify his criminal act - court upholds confession

Written By: Reid
Mar 03, 2009
In the case of State v. Parker, the Court of Appeals of South Carolina stated that "Few criminals feel impelled to confess to the police purely of their own accord without any questioning at all.... Thus, it can almost always be said that the interrogation caused the confession.... It is generally recognized that the police may use some psychological tactics in eliciting a statement from a suspect.... These ploys may play a part in the suspect's decision to confess, but so long as that decision is a product of the suspect's own balancing of competing considerations, the confession is voluntary."

"Excessive friendliness on the part of an interrogator can be deceptive. In some instances, in combination with other tactics, it might create an atmosphere in which a suspect forgets that his questioner is in an adversarial role, and thereby prompt admissions that the suspect would ordinarily only make to a friend, not to the police." Miller v. Fenton, 796 F.2d at 604 (3d Cir.1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 989, 107 S.Ct. 585, 93 L.Ed.2d 587 (1986). "Nevertheless, the 'good guy' approach is recognized as a permissible interrogation tactic." Id. (holding confession admissible despite interrogating officer's "supportive, encouraging manner ... aimed at winning [appellant's] trust and making him feel comfortable about confessing."). See also Beckwith v. United States, 425 U.S. 341, 343, 96 S.Ct. 1612, 48 L.Ed.2d 1 (1976) (interrogator had sympathetic attitude but confession voluntary); Frazier v. Cupp, 394 U.S. 731, 737-38, 89 S.Ct. 1420, 22 L.Ed.2d 684 (1969) (confession voluntary when petitioner began confessing after the officer "sympathetically suggested that the victim had started a fight.")."
Continue Reading