From CrimProf Blog, Editor: Kevin Cole, Univ. of San Diego School of Law
This Article brings a new perspective to that quest by arguing that much of the Court’s muddled jurisprudence regarding police interrogation is a result of the Justices’ differing views of why individuals confess.
The linchpin to all of the Court’s various approaches to police interrogation is the deceptively simple question of whether the suspect “voluntarily” decided to confess and waive his rights. As it turns out, answering the voluntariness question requires making assumptions about human behavior that transform the decision maker into as much psychotherapist as fact finder. By focusing intently on who the Justices envision as the suspect being questioned and the reasons why they confess, we discover that the Justices over time have espoused two fundamentally different characterizations of who is in the interrogation room: that of the “rugged individual” and that of the “susceptible individual.” Given that these two distinct views of the human psyche reside side-by-side within the Court’s jurisprudence, it becomes understandable that the Court’s confession law has a distinctly schizophrenic cast.
This framework, however, does more than to help explain the confusion surrounding the case law. By bringing these two competing visions out into the open, a direct examination from both an empirical and doctrinal viewpoint can be made of their underlying assumptions about human behavior. This examination shows that much of the Court’s current reliance on the rugged individual view is premised on assumptions that are belied by science. And, as the Article explains, the choice of characterization not only has a profound impact on how the constitutional rule is shaped, but has critical ramifications for matters such as lost convictions, false confessions, and the balance of power between the government and citizen.