Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bulletin: Hephzibah Olivia Lord; Aggressive interrogation technique comes under attack in false-arrest case; Closing addresses are completed; Jury deliberating; The Dallas News; (There is increasing recognition that use of the Reid interrogation technique - which can involve lies, trickery and deception as well as aggressive questioning - is based on false psychological assumptions and can lead to false confessions). The Charles Smith Blog is following developments relating to reconsideration of this widespread investigative technique.

STORY: "Attornies in Dallas police false-arrest trial make final  cases," by reporter Kevin Krause, published by the Dallas News on January 15, 2014;

GIST:  " (Defence lawyer) Tittle also talked about the dramatic videotape of Thompson’s aggressive interrogation of Lord hours after her boyfriend died. He said the detective “brutalized her in that video,” and he dismissed Thompson’s explanation that he was merely employing a technique he learned during training. He reminded the jury that Thompson told a distraught Lord that she meant nothing to Burnside — while she sat there with his blood still smeared across her clothing. “What kind of technique was that?” Tittle asked.........Schuette acknowledged fearing that the jurors could be swayed by watching the interrogation video and seeing a large African-American detective with a “big booming voice” facing off against a younger, attractive white woman. He told the jurors some of them may even hate Thompson for it. “That’s how it’s done,” he said about the interview technique. “You push, escalate.” (Prosecutor) Schuette said that he didn’t think Lord was trying to trick anyone by leaving out some details in her account, but that Thompson had to go with what he had at the time. “It’s called not having all the information,” he said. “He tried to do it right. It didn’t work out. It happens. But you don’t punish him just for being wrong.”"

The entire story can be found at:

See also related Dallas Morning News commentary by editorial writer Tod Robberson; "No more Kojak interrogations: Detective's abuses in Hephzibah Lord case  deserve punishment."..."Because of Thompson’s truth-be-damned crusade to convict Lord for Burnside’s death, she was arrested and jailed for nine days. That might not seem like a big deal to the casual reader, but I can guarantee it was a big deal to Lord, who was badly shaken by her boyfriend’s death and doubly shaken by being harshly interrogated, jailed and accused of murder by Thompson. Thompson berated her in questioning. He bullied her. He intimidated her. He lied to her. He withheld exculpatory evidence from her. He didn’t read Lord her rights to have a lawyer present during questioning. In short, he massively violated her civil rights. And a jury should punish him for it, while sending a strong message to law enforcers and overzealous prosecutors everywhere that you can’t do this stuff anymore. Enough already. The Kojak era of tough-guy, slap-’em-around interrogation tactics is over. Thompson needs to stop watching TV and update his understanding of what’s legally permissible and legally required by law enforcers."

Lastly, also a recent post on "Grits for Breakfast, in which the "Reid" interrogation technique comes under attack.  (There appears to be increasing  recognition that use of the technique - which also  can involve lies, trickery and deception  - can lead to false confessions. HL); "Lord did not crater under such "questioning." But some folks do, including innocent ones. (Ask Christopher Ochoa.) Thompson is almost certainly correct that he was trained to behave that way - it's a significant cause of false confessions and a method central to the so-called "Reid technique," which is the basis for nearly all police interrogation training in America. (See here, here, here, here, and here.) But does it really help to shout "profanity-laced accusations" while working oneself "into a rage" when there's a good chance the person is innocent (and legally are presumed to be)? Should that really be a routine part of police investigation? There are alternatives to the Reid technique, but it's hard to blame officers for following their training. It's much harder, though, to understand why officers are still trained to behave that way."


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