Why would someone confess to a crime they didn't commit? The Innocence Project states more than 1 out of 4 people wrongfully convicted but later exonerated by DNA evidence made a false confession or incriminating statement. This can be due to real or perceived intimidation, threat or use of force from law enforcement; the use of deceitful interrogation techniques; or compromised reasoning ability by the accused. A videotape recording of a statement from start to finish of an arrest interrogation and subsequent confession provides the most objective means for evaluating what occurred during an interrogation.
On May 12, 2014, the Department of Justice outlined new policies relative to electronic recording. NACDL previously issued correspondence to DOJ encouraging the electronic recording during custodial interrogations. While we cannot be sure that NACDL's letter was the catalyst for the new policies, the new policy is a significant step forward for DOJ and sends an important message to other jurisdictions that do not currently record. Please see NACDL's letter to the Department of Justice and the memo detailing the policy.
NACDL is pleased to host a comprehensive compendium of jurisdictions that have enacted statutes or rules on electronic recording. This compendium was compiled by Tom Sullivan, NACDL Member and Partner with Jenner & Block. We hope this information is useful to you as you seek reform efforts in your jurisdictions.
View NACDL’s legislative report below to review legislation currently under consideration. Additionally, consider joining NACDL’s State Criminal Justice Network (SCJN) to exchange information, share resources, and develop effective strategies for promoting the recording of interrogations and enacting other pressing reforms.
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
- "The Baltimore exonerees’ cases shed light on the need for reforming youth interrogations,"
- "Opinion: Videotape All Police Interrogations,"
- "Ohio Bill Seeks To Require Recording Of Interrogations,"
Recording Interrogations News Releases
News Release ~ 05/21/2014
Department of Justice Announces New Policy Concerning the Recording of Custodial Interrogations-- Washington, DC (May 21, 2014) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) is greatly encouraged by the new DOJ policy, announced last week and effective July 11, 2014, creating a presumption in favor of recording custodial interrogations.