inducement, destroys the effect of properly given advice under Article 31, and
renders the statement inadmissible."
U.S. v. Collier, 49 CMR 719 (AFCMR,
If an accused is promised immunity from prosecution in return for
confessing, the confession will not be admissible. U.S. v. Churnovic, 22 MJ
401 (CMA, 1986). It is not, however, improper for an investigator to tell the
suspect that he (the investigator) "would notify the authorities of his
cooperation." U.S. v. St. Clair, 19 MJ 833 (NMCMR, 1984).
4. Police deception. Once a suspect has waived his rights and has agreed to
talk to the authorities, it is important to look at the validity of certain
interrogation techniques. The use of deception "is not impermissible as long
as the artifice was not designed or calculated... to produce an untrue
U.S. v. McKay, 26 CMR 307 (CMA, 1958).
Fraud and deceit are
improper "only when the nature of the fraud or deceit is calculated to elicit
an untrue statement." U.S. v. Gibson, 14 CMR 164 (CMA, 1954). The mere use of
deception, then, is not improper.
U.S. v. Davis, 6 MJ 874 (ACMR, 1979).
Remember, however, that we are speaking of interrogation techniques that are
used AFTER the suspect has been properly advised of his rights, and he has
voluntarily agreed to talk to the authorities.
Do not, under any
circumstances, commit fraud or deceit while you are advising a suspect of his
rights. Any deceit at this point will result in a defective rights advisement
and an inadmissible confession.
A good example is U.S. v. Melanson, 15 MJ 765 (AFCMR, 1983). The suspect
"was tricked into believing film existed" and "that his criminal activities
(had) been recorded on film." The court ruled that "a trick or artifice which
has no tendency to produce a false confession is a permissible weapon in the
"misrepresenting that (a) murder weapon had been found," "that fingerprints
found at a crime scene matched the accused," and that the suspect's
fingerprints "had been found on (a) blood-covered knife." In Frazier v. Cupp,
394 US 731, 22 L.Ed.2d 684 89 SCt 1420 (1969), the suspect was falsely told
that his associate had confessed.
The Supreme Court held that the police
"misrepresentation" did not, standing alone, make the confession inadmissible.
PART P - THE PUBLIC SAFETY EXCEPTION
1. In U.S. v. Seeloff, 15 MJ 978 (ACMR, 1983), an individual walked into the
KP station at 2225 hours, and said, "I have a personal problem. I have to talk
to somebody. I just murdered someone." An MP asked him where the body was.
Although the case was not decided on this point, the court held that the
investigator "felt he needed to get this information in the event there was
someone thought to be dead, but who was only injured and in need of help."
2. The same issue reached the U.S. Supreme Court a year later.
chased a rapist into a supermarket. The victim said that the attacker had a
When he was apprehended inside of the store, however, the suspect's
holster was empty. A police officer asked him where the gun was. The court
concluded that Miranda warnings were not necessary, and that the suspect's
response (and the gun) were admissible. The court explained that "overriding
considerations of public safety justify the officer's failure to provide