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Copyright (c) 1996 Connecticut Law Review
Connecticut Law Review

ARTICLE: UNNECESSARY EVIL: POLICE LYING IN INTERROGATIONS

Winter, 1996

28 Conn. L. Rev. 425

Author

Deborah Young *

Excerpt



Sheriff Howard Wells told Susan Smith that he did not believe her story that her children were abducted in a carjacking. He said he knew that she was lying to him. To bolster this assertion, Sheriff Wells lied. He said that undercover narcotics detectives, stationed at the crossroad where Smith alleged the abduction had occurred, saw nothing. Then Sheriff Wells prayed with Susan Smith, holding her hands. She confessed to killing her children. Sheriff Smith said later, "I had a problem telling the lie . . . . But if that's what it takes, I'd do it again." 1

In his closing argument in State v. O.J. Simpson, attorney Johnnie Cochran told the jury how they should view Detective Vannater's testimony. "You can't trust him. You can't believe anything he says because it goes to the core of this case. When you are lying at the beginning, you will be lying at the end. The Book of Luke talks about that . . . if you are untruthful in small things, you should be disbelieved in big things." 2

Law enforcement officers lie to suspects, defendants and their attor- neys to induce confessions. Such lies are reported in many cases. In Lewis v. United States, 3 for example, police faked a photograph and falsely told the suspect, Lewis, that the photograph showed his thumb print on the decedent's shoe. Police also falsely stated that a witness had seen Lewis on the night of the murder coming out of ...
 
 
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