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SCOTUS: Penumbras, Yes – Confessions, No

From an approving Los Angeles Times:

Supreme Court casts doubts on confessions

Justices set aside a man’s robbery confession that came after prolonged questioning. A 1968 law says the statement can be used if it was made within six hours after arrest.

By David G. Savage

The Supreme Court refused Monday to permit prolonged, secret questioning of crime suspects, ruling that even voluntary confessions may not be used in a federal court if the defendant was held more than six hours before confessing.

Justice David H. Souter pointed to the surprising number of persons who have been shown to be innocent through DNA evidence but had confessed to a crime.

Police questioning “isolates and pressures the individual,” he said, “and there is mounting empirical evidence that these pressures can induce a frighteningly high percentage of people to confess to crimes they never committed.”

The 5-4 decision upheld a federal rule dating back to the 1940s that says crime suspects should be brought before a magistrate as soon as possible.

The Constitution requires crime suspects to be given a “probable cause” hearing within 48 hours of their arrest, the court said in 1991.

Monday’s decision set aside the confession of a man convicted of robbing a Philadelphia-area bank and who was held and questioned by the FBI for two days before he was brought before a magistrate. Johnnie Corley had signed a written confession

Joining Souter’s opinion in Corley vs. United States were Justices John Paul Stevens, Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer…

Can there be any better example of how far our judicial system has been perverted by its priesthood of lawyers and judges into something that has very little to do with justice?

(Thanks to BillK for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, April 7th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

13 Responses to “SCOTUS: Penumbras, Yes – Confessions, No”

  1. BillK says:

    Now SCOTUS says confessions aren’t admissible.

    From the Los Angeles Times:

    Supreme Court casts doubts on confessions

    Justices set aside a man’s robbery confession that came after prolonged questioning. A 1968 law says the statement can be used if it was made within six hours after arrest.

    By David G. Savage

    The Supreme Court refused Monday to permit prolonged, secret questioning of crime suspects, ruling that even voluntary confessions may not be used in a federal court if the defendant was held more than six hours before confessing….

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-court-confessions7-2009apr07,0,6190447.story

    Needless to say, the whole liberal wing agreed:

    Joining Souter’s opinion in Corley vs. United States were Justices John Paul Stevens, Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

    Sigh…

  2. proreason says:

    How soon until jury trials are abolished and judges have total control of the entire legal process, with The Moron being the ultimate arbitrer, of course. If he can fire CEO’s, why not pass judgements on individuals as well?

    Funny isn’t it, how the “post modern” world is beginning to look an awful lot like the world 1,000 years ago. Apparently, little things like “the law” and “freedom” and “markets” just don’t seem to be work well enough in the post-modern “complexity” to be sustainable. Instead, elite aristocrats must control our lives to “protect” us from all these dangers. Surely, it is just a coincidence that our elites seem to enjoy that power.

  3. caligirl9 says:

    Lovely. Another protection for the bad guys … and another right of the police (and the law-abiding people) right down the toilet!

  4. BigBad says:

    As a libertarian it is hard for me to get upset when power is taken from any agent of the government. In this case the police.

    • proreason says:

      BigBad: Look at the list of approving SCOTUS’s.

      That may help understand whether this is a good thing or not.

      And remember that liberals often seem to be in favor of “rights” of one sort or another….yet are very comfortable telling you what to do 24×7. Generally, the “rights” they favor are related to the liberal approved criminal-behavior-du-jour……drugs, abortion, prostitution, voter-fraud, cop-killing, etc.

    • BigBad says:

      Drugs and prostitution should be legal why? What ever you want to do in the privacy of your home should not be illegal. I could care less if you spend your days sniffing glue.

      IMO both Dems and Repubs want to control some part of your life. It is socialism fast(dems) or socialism slow(repubs). And they will use any agent of the government at their disposal(IRS, police, FBI, etc). Whenever the power of any of these agent is reduced the libertarian in me applauds.

    • proreason says:

      I’m not a big backer of heavy punishment for drugs and prostition, but they are against the law.

      If the only laws were ones 100% of the world agreed with, there wouldn’t be any laws at all.

    • caligirl9 says:

      If we had reasonable, lawful behavior from 100% of the population we wouldn’t need police.

      I too am for less government intervention BUT because I’m not a criminal, and I live in an area with plenty ‘o gangsta thugs of all races (but mostly Hispanic, black and Asian) I don’t mind a visible police presence.

    • Liberals Make Great Speedbumps says:

      Big Bad,

      If you feel comfortable living next door to some meth head tweaker who owns guns because he/she hasn’t had a felony conviction yet, more power to ya buddy. Me, not so much. I don’t want the Government telling me what to do either but I sure as hell don’t want to live in a state of anarchy.

      Regarding this article, I can see some valid points in the SCOTUS decision believe it or not. I don’t think that the Police should be allowed to detain someone and wear them down through prolonged interrogation. People become more compliant the more sleep deprived they are. That is a good thing but can also be easily abused. However, I also think that putting an arbitrary time frame, like 6 hours, is ridiculous. It’s pretty rare that interrogations are not video taped so why couldn’t it be decided on a case by case basis if there is any question?

    • BigBad says:

      Of course I wouldn’t feel comfortable living next to a “meth head”. I would use my FREEDOM of choice and move. BTW are you actually telling me that if there were not drug laws we would have “meth heads” all over the place. They are plenty now even with the laws. If they repealed the laws do you actually think people would say “well that does it Im now going to try crack!”

      I always love when people bring up anarchy when discussing government oversight. You do realize that liberals, who you rightly make fun of in your user name, would consider a government with only the Bill of Rights as an anarchy. To me the Bill of Rights is just about a perfect way to govern.

    • Liberals Make Great Speedbumps says:

      “Of course I wouldn’t feel comfortable living next to a “meth head”. I would use my FREEDOM of choice and move.”

      As would I BigBad, but what about the people that don’t have the luxury of that option for any number of reasons? Screw ’em?

      “BTW are you actually telling me that if there were not drug laws we would have “meth heads” all over the place.”

      No, but there would be many more of them.

      “If they repealed the laws do you actually think people would say “well that does it Im now going to try crack!”

      Again, some would. If there were no possibility of any penalty for such action, what would stop them? The ones who would make such a decision aren’t going to be deterred by some deeply held moral values within them due to the fact that they probably have none.

      “I always love when people bring up anarchy when discussing government oversight.”

      So then in your mind less “oversight” would somehow bring the average person in our morally declining society to shy away from their baser instincts? Perhaps “anarchy” was too strong a term for what I meant but you can’t actually believe that there aren’t a lot of people would choose to be less than good neighbors with less law enforcement.

      “You do realize that liberals”……”would consider a government with only the Bill of Rights as an anarchy.”

      Liberals consider any situation in which they do not possess absolute power anarchy.

      “To me the Bill of Rights is just about a perfect way to govern.”

      I agree. However when the Bill of Rights is allowed to be “interpreted” based upon the whims of black robed mullahs, it’s not much of a Bill of Rights then, is it? Your rights are subject to loss at any given moment.

  5. pdsand says:

    It must be right snuck in a little footnote to the bill of rights that I missed, the whole 6 hour confession rule. Just like the probable cause hearing within 48 hours rule that the court found snuck in there in 1991.

  6. U NO HOO says:

    “shown to be innocent through DNA evidence”

    How?

    You cannot prove a negative.


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