In her 21-page opinion, Judge Read also acknowledged what has become a hot-button issue at the Capitol: the videotaping of police interrogations.
“While electronic recording of interrogations should facilitate the discovery of false confession and is becoming standard police practice, the neglect to record is not a factor or circumstance that might induce a false confession,” she wrote.
The court also seemed to set a high bar for determining that relevance: In a 5-to-2 decision, the judges upheld the conviction of a defendant, Khemwatie Bedessie, in the rape of a 4-year-old boy, arguing that the testimony of her expert witness was not germane to the specifics of her confession.
Still, the decision by the New York Court of Appeals was a welcome sign for defense lawyers and innocence advocates who have argued that police interrogation tactics can lead people to admit to crimes they did not commit. About a quarter of the convicts exonerated by DNA evidence nationwide gave false confessions, made self-incriminating statements or pleaded guilty, according to the Innocence Project.
“That the phenomenon of false confessions is genuine has moved from the realm of startling hypothesis into that of common knowledge, if not conventional wisdom,” Judge Susan P. Read wrote in the majority opinion.
Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman joined Judge Theodore T. Jones in his dissent, because both thought that the expert in the Bedessie case should have been allowed to testify. Judge Lippman has long advocated for greater protection against wrongful convictions through things like the videotaping of confessions and changes in the way lineups are conducted. Judge Lippman commissioned a taskforce, co-chaired by Judge Jones, that in January recommended legislation to put those measures in place.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/30/nyregion/new-yorks-highest-court-acknowledges-issue-of-false-confessions.html?ref=nyregion