Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reid Technique implicitly approved

Under the Reid Technique police interrogate accused and, among other things, seek to minimize the actions they are supposed to have done in order to convince the accused to confess. Step 2 of the technique provides:

 "Try to shift the blame away from the suspect to some other person or set of circumstances that prompted the suspect to commit the crime. That is, develop themes containing reasons that will justify or excuse the crime. Themes may be developed or changed to find one to which the accused is most responsive." 

The Reid Technique is problematic even to the extent of causing false confessions. That said a decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario released today implicitly upholds and approves the use of the technique. Some might question whether the Court was fully aware of the implications of the decision?

 Blake, 2015 ONCA 684 holds:

(3) Voluntariness

 [24] The appellant submits that by raising child abuse allegations, Detective McLean created an atmosphere of oppression. The also appellant submits that the trial judge erred by failing to conclude that the appellant's confession was unreliable because it flowed from Detective McLean's disingenuous description of the legal consequences of consensual sex with a minor.

 [25] I do not accept that raising a child abuse allegation created an atmosphere of oppression. That line of questioning lasted for less than five minutes. It did not create oppressive conditions or cause him to confess. His will was not overborne.

 [26] There is no doubt that Detective McLean introduced, and even pressed, the issue of consensual sex during his interview with the appellant: DCM: So that's what I'm talking about, consent, you understand all that. And … that explains a lot to me if that is the case…. … DCM: I'm saying if you … had consent then you had consent and I'm going home. … DCM: But my whole thing is if this is consent… JB: Yeah. DCM: … it's consent and that would explain everything, then I can go back and talk to them. JB: You know what? DCM: And I'll be back and let them know my update.

 [27] In my view, this line of questioning did not cross the line into improper police inducement. Detective McLean testified, and the trial judge accepted in his ruling, that his intention in adopting this approach was to reduce the moral blameworthiness of the appellant's acts, making it easier for him to tell the truth about what had happened.

[28] Importantly, Detective McLean did not tell the appellant that the charges would be dropped if the sex with the complainant was consensual. Indeed, when the appellant asked him a question about consensual sex, Detective McLean replied: "When… two people, two adults have consensual sex there's no charge."

[29] Finally, I note that the appellant testified at his trial. During cross-examination, this exchange occurred: Q. I'm going to suggest to you that you admitted that you did it when you thought it wasn't a crime. A. No. Q. That's the only reason you broke down… A. No. Q. …because you believed that it wasn't illegal to have sex with a 15 year old so you thought you were off the hook. A. I know it's illegal to have sex with a 15 year old and I never had sex with a 15 year old. [Emphasis added.]

[30] In summary, I do not think that Detective McLean's language during the consent component of the interview amounted to an improper inducement.

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