For at least the past 20 years as courtrooms have seen a rise in electronic recordings being used, juries have expressed their overall preference for and value of electronically recorded confessions and interrogations. And over the past 10 years as state-by-state, legislation has begun to put in writing laws that require its use, the benefits have continued to gain visibility. And juries are all the happier.
Juries Want More Recorded Interviews
Why is it that juries like recorded interviews? And why is the impact of the recent passing of the legislation to require Federal agencies to use ERI for custodial interrogations so major?
A recent article from The Verge summarizes the situation this way:
“The recordings will have a major impact on testimony from the FBI and other agencies during a trial. The [Arizona] Republic reports that, as juries have grown used to recorded evidence, there have been issues for both prosecutors and defendants from the lack of audio.
Defense attorneys have reportedly been able to undermine honest FBI testimony, while in other cases, inaccurate testimony is believed to have led to false convictions. The Justice Department even recommends that agents and prosecutors consider where else they might be able to make recordings, in an effort to create an even more thorough trail of documentation.”
Audio and Video Recording Make Lasting Impressions
And it’s not only audio recordings that make a difference in court. Video taped interviews also make big impressions and help prosecutors close cases and juries come to conclusions faster.
Officer.com explains how murder charges brought against a man in Reading, PA were dismissed after the prosecution’s primary witness denied in her testimony that she saw the stabbing.
But her testimony directly conflicted with a videotaped testimony she had given before in which she, distraught and weeping, had identified the stabber not long after the killing. The woman’s words, “I could not stop him,” set a precedent for the Reading police—it was the first time they had used a taped interview during a court proceeding and it had a major impact, and a major impression on the jury.
According to the Officer.com article the Berks County District Attorney, John T. Adams, explained the case has more than highlighted why it is important to record interviews with both video and audio equipment.
“This witness recanted her testimony,” Adams said. “We then presented her videotaped interview as evidence, which substantiated the murder charge.”
As a result, the county recently installed an interview room in the services center that is equipped to videotape witnesses and suspects during questioning.
What about your department? Your proceedings? And the way you handle confessions, interrogations and capturing statements.
The value that digitally recorded audio and video add has risen to the top—even federal agencies have now reversed a 100+ ban on recording interviews. The impact is and will be enormous. If your department is looking for digital recording systems, iRecord provides the best solution out there. Some states are even providing funding or additional resources to help you reach compliance, so be sure to check out what resources are available to you!