When it comes to a youth’s adjudicative competence, do age and maturity matter to judges?

In Graham v. Florida, Roper v. Simmons, and J.D.B v. North Carolina, the US Supreme Court recognized differences between adolescents and adults. For example, in J.D.B v. North Carolina, the Court wrote that “officers and judges need no imaginative powers, knowledge of developmental psychology, training in cognitive science, or expertise in social and cultural anthropology to account for a child’s age.… Read More

Miranda: when familiarity does not equal understanding

One could argue that popular shows such as Cops, The Closer and the various permutations of Law & Order have increased the public’s familiarity with Miranda rights and police practices. Anyone who has watched just a few of those shows probably recognizes this scene: a police officer handcuffs a suspect while intoning, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you…”

A recent study by Rogers and colleagues examined how well pretrial defendants and college students actually understand Miranda rights and police practices.… Read More

Videotaping interrogations could have foreseeable complications

The integrity of our criminal justice system is closely linked to the methods used to elicit confessions. This is one reason the American Bar Association and others support the videotaping of interrogations. As I mentioned in my last review, taping can deter interrogators from using inappropriate or illegal methods.

Unfortunately, videotaping is not without complications. For example, research has consistently demonstrated that the angle of the camera influences a viewer’s perception of the voluntariness of the statement and the suspect’s guilt.  … Read More