Local Police Interrogation Expert Witness at Center of Widely Watched Trial
We already mentioned on this blog the concerns about eyewitness testimony (see Potential Weaknesses of Eyewitness Testimony about Dr. Sam Sommers’ discussion of the weakness of eyewitness testimony). Now a local San Francisco expert witness in police interrogation and false confessions is at the center of a widely watched case in Pennsylvania. Expert witness Richard Leo testified in a case where a defendant with “no prior record or contact with police” confessed to murder after 5 hours of interrogation. A state Superior Court panel recently ruled that Mr. Leo could explain to the jury why some people are more likely to get pressured into a false confession. The ruling is seen by many attorneys as the first step to allowing expert psychological testimony in the state of Pennsylvania.
As an article at http://www.philly.com notes, “Marissa B. Bluestine, legal director of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project…believes the exoneration through DNA of some people convicted of crimes – by confession, eyewitness identification, or other evidence – is making some judges more open to the use of experts in court.”
The ruling allowing Mr. Leo’s testimony is viewed as an incremental step in the court system’s recognition of the potential downfalls of confessions and eye witness testimony.
The complete http://www.philly.com article by Joseph A. Slobodzian can be found here: “Jailed 6 years as argument rages over expert witness“.