on Recording Custodial Interrogations

Kudos to Rep. Donna Walsh and Sen. Chuck Levesque for leading the legislative effort and U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith for leading the judicial effort to promote the recording of custodial interrogations.  From the Providence Journal:

It’s a scene that plays out on television every night: detectives playing good cop, bad cop, trying to pry a confession out of a suspect.

And now a federal judge in Rhode Island is in the forefront of a push to make sure that real-life law enforcement agencies record those interrogations. U.S. District Judge William E. Smith is instructing juries to view with caution police testimony about interviews that have not been recorded.

It should be noted that President Barack Obama launched his post-partisan political career by bringing people together and passing a bill that required the videotaping of interrogations in murder cases in Illinois.  Via McClatchy:

Facing the challenge of overhauling the death-penalty law in a state rocked by revelations of botched prosecutions, Illinois state Sen. John Cullerton made a tactical decision.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee decided to separate one controversial proposal from the broader package, one that would require videotaping interrogations in murder cases. Police and prosecutors opposed it so much that keeping it in the broader package threatened to sink the whole effort.

The state senator who later took on the task of pushing the proposal to videotape interrogations was Barack Obama.

Obama worked with Democrats, Republicans and especially with police and prosecutors to fashion a bill that all of them could support. By the time it reached the Senate floor, everyone was on board. It passed in a unanimous vote, and is now Illinois law.

If you would like further information on this topic, the Rhode Island Bar Association will present a CLE seminar reviewing the evolution and implementation of the electronic recording of custodial interrogations by law enforcement.  The panelists, Michael DiLauro, Peter Hopkins, John McMahon, and George Muksian, will provide a summary of the law as it exists in the United States; evaluate case outcomes where electronic recording has been used; examine different legal approaches to instituting the policy of electronic recording, including statutes, court rulings and departmental policies; compare the conflicting views on electronic recording; and discuss the ethical implications from the prosecutor’s viewpoint.  They will also update you on the state of the Rhode Island legislative proposal establishing the implementation of electronic custodial interrogations.

The program is scheduled for Tuesday, March 31, 2009 from 2:00 p.m. ~ 4:00 p.m.  Each attendee will receive 2.0 CLE credits (including .5 ethics credit).  The seminar will be held at the RI Law Center, 115 Cedar St., Providence.  Tuition:  Admitted to the RI Bar BEFORE January 1, 2004 – $90.00 Admitted to the RI Bar AFTER January 1, 2004 ~ and Associate Members of RIBA – $75.00 ($10 is added to registrations received after March 27, 2009)  For more information and to register go to the RI Bar Association website or call the CLE office at 401.421.5740.

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