Just over a year ago, then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole encouraged investigators to videotape all suspects in custody before coming to court with federal charges. We saw a flurry of activity all last summer as the FBI formally adopted the policy to video record interrogations and this momentum has continued through 2015.
In a Harvard Law Review article released in May this year we see that from 2003 until now states that require law enforcement officers to electronically record some or all interviews as jumped from two to twenty two and counting.
Here is a chronology of states that have stepped up to the plate to conduct electronically recorded custodial interview (all citations from HLR article).
1985: Alaska becomes the first state to require recording in the Alaska Supreme Court. Stephan v. State, 711 P.2d 1156, 1159–60, 1164 (Alaska 1985).
1994: Minnesota follows suit almost a decade later, imposing a similar recording requirement. State v. Scales, 518 N.W.2d 587, 592 (Minn. 1994).
2003: Illinois became the first state to pass a statue that required police to electronically record custodial interrogations in homicide investigations. 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/103-2.1 (2012); see also Monica Davey, Illinois Will Require Taping of Homicide Interrogations, N.Y. Times (July 17, 2003)
2005: New Jersey N.J. Ct. R. 3:17
2007: Maine Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 25, § 2803-B (2007)
2008: Nebraska Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 29-4501 to -4508 (2008)
2008: Maryland Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. §§ 2-402 to 2-403 (LexisNexis 2008)
2009: Indiana Ind. R. Evid. 617
2010: North Carolina: N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 15A-211 (West 2013); Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2933.81 (LexisNexis 2010)
2011-2012: Wisconsin Wis. Stat. § 972.115 (2011–2012)
2012: Arkansas , Ark. R. Crim. P. 4.7
2012: Washington DC D.C. Code §§ 5-116.01 to .03 (2012)
2012: Missouri: Mo. Rev. Stat. § 590.700 (Supp. 2012)
2013: New Mexico N.M. Stat. Ann. § 29-1-16 (LexisNexis Supp. 2013)
2013: Montana Mont. Code Ann. §§ 46-4-406 to -411 (2013)
2013: Oregon: Or. Rev. Stat. § 133.400 (2013)
2013: Texas: Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 38.22 (West 2013)
2013: Connecticut Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-1o (2013)
2014: Vermont: Vt. Acts & Resolves 1113
2014: California Cal. Penal Code § 859.5 (West Supp. 2014)
2014: Michigan Mich. Comp. LawsServ. §§ 763.7–.11 (LexisNexis Supp. 2014)
Read a full compendium of laws and Supreme Court rulings collected in the compendium by Thomas P. Sullivan, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers here.
What’s more there are thousands of police departments throughout the country that have made the move to utilize recording as a tool in capturing testimony from suspects and witnesses. The HLR details what users are gaining from these tools:
The benefits of recording custodial interviews are numerous—including increased reliability and efficiency—and largely uncontested today. Most importantly, recording makes it easier for judges to identify false confessions by allowing them to bypass the interpretation of the agent taking notes and writing the report, providing judges with a more objective means of assessing the veracity of a defendant’s confession. See Gail Johnson, Commentary, False Confessions and Fundamental Fairness: The Need for Electronic Recording of Custodial Interrogations
Read the full HLR article here to more fully unpack statistics as well as other benefits of using electronic video and audio recording equipment by clicking here.
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