Our pitch is that courts should wise up to the mindfucking – er – psychological manipulation that goes on in the interrogation room. Even though the Supreme Court cottoned to it 60 years ago in Miranda, courts are still churning out decisions like this:
“Defendant complains that his confession was coerced. We disagree. Initially we note, or note initially, that defendant was not in custody, since the officers merely asked him if it would be convenient to take a little drive with them to the stationhouse.
“Defendant whines that his consent was not voluntary because the police showed up at 2 a.m. and only a few hours earlier the same officers had searched his house and taken away all his children. We don’t think so. We credit Officer Blow’s testimony at the suppression hearing that he was not in uniform, but wearing a powder blue polo shirt with red trim around the collar. He could not recall what his partner was wearing except that it had sequins, suggesting that he too was not in uniform. We have long held that consent is voluntary whenever the police are not in uniform.
“Preliminarily, the officers’ car was unmarked. A reasonable person getting into an unmarked car with two police officers attired as described would feel free to leave at any time.
“Too, we note that defendant checked the boxes next to his Miranda rights, making everything afterwards voluntary.
“Furtherarily, we decline to credit defendant’s self-serving claim that the officers threatened to throw his wife over a cliff if he did not confess. This was squarely contradicted by Officer Blow’s forthright testimony that he told defendant, ‘If you don’t tell us the truth, your wife will end up at the bottom of a cliff.’ We decline to hold that mere statements about the potential whereabouts of a suspect’s wife are coercive.
“Moreoverarily, even crediting defendant’s implausible claim that he was strapped to a chair and forced to watch commercials of a lizard selling car insurance for 16 hours, this did not, standing alone, render his statement involuntary. See People v. Denture (confession not involuntary where defendant forced to listen to ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ for 32 hours).
“Nor did the officers’ representations that defendant would only be charged with littering if he admitted to killing the victim, standing alone, render his confession inadmissible. We have long held that tricks, pranks, ruses, whoppers, and fibs are not coercive unless they are substantially likely to make an innocent person confess. Since defendant confessed, he was obviously not innocent. Therefore the ruse was not coercive.
“And besides, the officers gave him a Coke.