From a linguistic perspective, this book is a practical explanation of how confessions work. Roger Shuy, author of the 1993 benchmark work, Language Crimes, examines criminal confessions, the interrogations that elicit confessions, and the deceptive language that plays a role in the actual confession. He presents transcripts from numerous interrogations and analyzes how language is used, how constitutional rights are not protected, and discusses consistency, truthfulness, suggestibility, and written and unvalidated confessions. He also provides specific advice about how to conduct interrogations that will yield credible evidence.
Most law enforcement agencies try to obtain confessions on video-or audiotape, on stenographic record, and in writing, or any combination of these forms. Indeed, virtually all confession cases I have analyzed have produced one or more of these confession records.
Case Study of Shiv Panini
In one case I worked on, however, no tape, no stenographic record, no written confession, and not even any notes of the alleged confession were available at trial. The entire prosecution rested on the memories and interpretations of what two detectives and the suspect's supervisor at work claimed they had heard: a confession. Not surprisingly, the defendant claimed he did not confess to the act for which he was charged. The evidence in this case, then, rested on memories ...