Government Weighs Government Role in Coercing Confessions ( From Innocent Citizens )

Print This Post

62 Responses

  1. Tarrou says:

    I has a solution. Send in some instructors from SERE to "interrogate" the officers. I'm laying five to one odds they can get the "detectives" to confess to the child's death, 9/11, the Lindberg kidnapping and being accessories to Guy Fawkes.

    Justice as symmetry.

  2. cdru says:

    A local story I read this morning mentioned a guy who stole 4 cell phones from a locker room. One of the cells was able to be tracked down remotely and the police were notified. The officer responding told the thief if he returned the phones he wouldn't face charges. After he returned the phone, the victim decided to go to the prosecutor to see about pressing charges anyways.

    Moral of the story: presume everything an officer says is a lie.

  3. grouch says:

    The http://www.nytimes.com doesn't want me reading the article.

    Was any mention made of anal probing by eager doctors?

    Was Mr. Thomas billed for the detectives' time and refreshments for the duration of the chat?

    Was Mr. Thomas improperly accused by a professional police dog?

    I'm not entirely sure that an injustice has occurred here. Think of the children.

  4. Laura says:
    Later they told him his son, who was already brain-dead, might die if he did not help doctors by describing how he hurt the boy.

    Of course, the boy was already dead, and the detectives lied to the father, basically promising him that his son would live if he agreed to the fiction that he had done it, even if he hadn't.

    I don't see how the father would have concluded that lying to the doctors would help them treat his son. I think it would be more accurate to say that the detectives threatened to prosecute his wife if he didn't confess, even if he was innocent, and that they lied to him and promised that his son would live if he waived his rights and told the truth, whatever that might have been.

  5. inode_buddha says:

    Rule No. 1: *ALWAYS* ask for it in writing with a signature. If they won't do that, then screw 'em. Be sure to mention later on that they wouldn't do it in writing.

  6. Dick Taylor says:

    Don't talk to the police without a lawyer. Ever. Then it doesn't matter if they lie to you. Cases like this are more proof that if it's just you against the police, you will lose every time. After two days of interrogation in that kind of an environment, I doubt that he was processing anything well enough to defend his own interests. Nobody would.

    Notwithstanding the foregoing, there's a special place in hell reserved for police who promise (or even imply) that if you tell "the truth" (that is, if you confirm what they have already assumed) then your dead child will come back to life.

  7. JTM says:

    @Clark

    Do you think the police should be permitted to lie to a suspect? And if so, where do you think the line should be drawn?

  8. Rob says:

    I don't see how the father would have concluded that lying to the doctors would help them treat his son.

    Some people, especially those with certain mental disabilities, would not be able to understand that, particularly when under a great deal of stress.

    Now, I don't know whether or not the defendant in this case has a mental disability, but I can see even someone of somewhat average or just below average, who is desperate to help his child, may grasp at that straw.

  9. Laura says:

    One thing I'm curious about: if the father believed that he had information that could have helped the doctors treat his son, would he have had the right to speak to the doctors confidentially?

    (Whether he would have been allowed to in practice, or whether anyone under those circumstances could have been expected to have the presence of mind to insist on that, are different questions).

  10. Quite Possibly a Cat says:

    The police were telling him that the doctors needed to know what happened to save the baby. There is a pretty simple analysis at this point:
    Do nothing–>baby dies
    Guess at random and lie–>If he guesses right baby lives.
    One option the baby might live. One option it dies. What do you think a parent would do?

  11. Laura says:

    The police were telling him that the doctors needed to know what happened to save the baby. There is a pretty simple analysis at this point:
    Do nothing–>baby dies
    Guess at random and lie–>If he guesses right baby lives.
    One option the baby might live. One option it dies. What do you think a parent would do?

    I'm not a parent, but if I were in that situation, I'd tell the doctors everything I knew. If I didn't know what happened, I would tell them that, thinking that they'd be more likely to come up with the best possible treatment (even if it involved some guesswork on their part) with that information than they would if I'd guessed randomly and lied.

  12. Doctor X says:

    Wow. Was discussing this issue with others–not the same case but the basic "Do NOT Talk to Police." Forgive me if everyone has seen this before, but it is a lecture with a law professor and a retired detective-turned-law student where they both demonstrate why you DO NOT talk to police.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

    –J.D.

  13. Xenocles says:

    Laura-

    Great idea, really. In fact, I'd go so far as to offer the idea as a simple test of the police's intentions there. Say, "Of course I'll tell the doctors everything they need to know. But I'll only say it to them, at the hospital, without you in the room."

    If there's the slightest reluctance to work with you on this then the police are almost certainly lying. A concern for leaving a murder suspect unsupervised might be a redeeming reason for hesitation, but on balance it should be clear whether the idea is to save a life or trap a suspect.

  14. Zem says:

    The solution is easy. A new law specifically targeting the coercion of a false confession. The punishment if found guilty, the exact same punishment the innocent victim was sentenced too. Allow the law to be pursued in a civil court rather than require a public prosecution.

  15. BannableLecturer says:

    Cops get upset over dead babies, my advice to young parents, don't kill your babies

  16. a_random_guy says:

    JTM ask "Do you think the police should be permitted to lie?"

    How about we start here with the simple answer "no". If that means they fail to catch a couple of criminals, that's far better than the consequences of lying, namingly, tricking innocent people into false confessions.

    I have no idea if the guy in the case is innocent or not. The doctors found "severe head trauma" – that didn't happen by itself. However, the police lying to the subject is inexcusable regardless.

  17. James Pollock says:

    If that means they fail to catch a couple of criminals, that's far better than the consequences of lying, namingly, tricking innocent people into false confessions.

    But… people can (and do!) make false confessions when cops tell the truth, too. So I guess that's out, too. The only way to be absolutely sure the cops don't act on any false confessions is if they don't interview ANYONE.
    For a colorful example, consider the case of the "Happy Face Killer", and Laverne Pavlinac and John Sosnovske. Laverne confessed to a murder, and implicated her boyfriend… who pleaded guilty. Wikipedia gives the bare-bones, but there was lots of media coverage because the actual murderer wrote letters to a local newspaper columnist when the wrong people were convicted of the crime.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Hunter_Jesperson

  18. Noscitur a sociis says:

    Perhaps I'm missing something, but what makes you say Thomas is innocent?

  19. Martijn says:

    @Noscitur a sociis: it's irrelevant whether he is innocent or not. Getting the right answer using the wrong method is still wrong.

    Maybe you think 'taking a square root' is just fancy-talk for 'dividing by two'. You'll even get the right answer in some cases. That doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

  20. freedomfan says:

    James Pollack, certainly justice can be perverted even when the police aren't lying. And, if the question at hand was, "Is there a procedure or policy which would guarantee that justice is never perverted?" then the we may not have any good suggestions. But, if the question is, "Should the police be allowed to lie when interrogating a witness/suspect?" I think no is a perfectly acceptable suggestion.

  21. Noscitur a sociis says:

    @Noscitur a sociis: it's irrelevant whether he is innocent or not. Getting the right answer using the wrong method is still wrong.

    That is obviously true, and I'm not making a comment on the merits of the case. (I would never do so based on a New York Times article, as opposed to the actual legal filings.) But Clark seems to be claiming that Mr. Thomas is obviously innocent. I don't see where he's coming from there, and I'd be interested in clarification.

  22. Azathoh says:

    @Quite Possibly a Cat
    This is false logic:

    Do nothing–>baby dies
    Guess at random and lie–>If he guesses right baby lives.

    The correct choices are:
    Do nothing->doctors may save baby
    Guess at random and lie–>chances are you confuse doctors and increase the risk of the baby dying.

  23. Christoph says:

    When do lies become (illegal?) threats? Can cops just say "Confess, or we'll shoot you on the spot." if the part about shooting is a lie?

  24. Castaigne says:

    @Clark:

    The original headline is "Court Weighs Police Role in Coercing Confessions", but I like mine a bit better.

    Your penchant for lying hyperbole is noted. I recommend, Comrade Attorney, that you adhere to the legal profession standard of precision in language.

    After two days of interrogation, the father broke down, and agreed to the police lie, to save the life of his son and the freedom of his wife. He is now serving a life sentence.

    In the interest of fairness, transparency, and honesty, let's also make it generally known that, and I quote, "Mr. Thomas admitted he had thrown the infant down onto a bed forcefully three times and had hit the baby’s head accidentally against his crib. The boy would soon be declared dead. Convicted at trial of depraved indifference murder, Mr. Thomas is now serving a 25-year-to-life term in prison."

    Note that while the police did lie to him, Mr Thomas was, in actuality, guilty of what he confessed to. Which is probably why sympathy was limited.

    There's precedent to worry about, and if innocent men have to go to jail to uphold precent, well, then, government employees understand the relative importance of these two things

    Except that Clark lies by omission by making it seem as if the case was decide in the prosecution's favor…which is not so. The case is still being decided. And currently, the money in the legal community is banking on the Court banning further coerced confessions like those given in the article.

    You are such a fucking asshole, Clark. You just have to imply that the judges already made their decision and fucked the defendants solely so you can get your digs against government in. I swear to the bleeding Christ, you're as dishonest as an intelligent design proponent. Gotta make up fake beefs for your own ego.

  25. Castaigne says:

    @Rob:

    Now, I don't know whether or not the defendant in this case has a mental disability

    The answer to that is no.

    @a_random_guy:

    I have no idea if the guy in the case is innocent or not.

    The answer to that is a big fat nope. Not innocent in the least.

    @Martjin:

    Getting the right answer using the wrong method is still wrong.

    I generally disagree with that, being a results-oriented person who advocates practicality and pragmatism on a utilitarian basis, but I can easily understand your concern in this matter. In which case, the proper way to determine what is and is not acceptable is being done in this matter.

  26. Clark says:

    @Castaigne

    The case is still being decided.

    Indeed. Please point out to me where I said it wasn't? [ edit: next sentence added later ] One might even look at my subject line "Government Weighs Government Role…" and conclude that the word current tense "weighs" (as opposed to past tense "weighed") strongly implies that the case is still being decided.

    Was linking to the original article somehow part of my clever plan to deceive people?

    You are such a fucking asshole, Clark.

    What sort of barn did your mother raise you in abandon you at, such that this is your idea of how to interact with people?

    When Ken and Patrick discuss banning you, I'll argue strongly for keeping you around, from first principles, but if they do decide to slam the door on you, I certainly won't miss your witty contributions.

  27. Grandy says:

    The question before us today, Castaigne, is whether you can go about questioning Clark's posts/methods (a reasonable thing to do) without shitting all over yourself (not a reasonable thing to do).

    I am thinking. . . no. But I am open to having my mind changed.

  28. Chris Rhodes says:

    Your penchant for lying hyperbole is noted.

    Are the courts and police not part of the government?

    Note that while the police did lie to him, Mr Thomas was, in actuality, guilty of what he confessed to.

    How do you know, "in actuality"? "It can't be a false confession because he confessed!" isn't the strongest of arguments.

  29. Waldo says:

    Tricking innocent into making false confessions = bad. Tricking guilty into making true confessions = good. The trick is in distinguishing between the two.

  30. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    For me the issue is that the police are supposedly acting in my name. If they are lying to somebody and thereby get a false confession, they have involved ME in an injustice that could have been avoided if they had just had some fucking ethics.

  31. Ken White says:

    I am traveling today for a difficult matter for a client. If I am forced to devote attention to moderating I will bear a grudge.

  32. Tim McNeil says:

    "Tricking guilty into making true confessions = good."

    Oh really? Your momma was probably fond of saying "Two wrongs don't make a right", mine was.

  33. AlphaCentauri says:

    Tricking innocent into making false confessions = bad. Tricking guilty into making true confessions = good. The trick is in distinguishing between the two.

    If the purpose of the interview were to gather additional facts that could then be independently proven true or false, that would be one thing. But in reality, once a confession is obtained, all further investigation stops. The prosecution won't spend any further money testing the physical evidence or interviewing witnesses.

    The method of obtaining a confession would not be such an issue if we treated it as the unreliable evidence it is. You can make people blurt out crucial information (where the body was dumped, a piece of information that can then be tested), or you can make them blurt out bullshit.

    "Confession" has so many religious overtones it may be the wrong term to use in a legal proceding, anyway.

  34. Owen says:

    Castaigne • Jan 23, 2014 @5:14 am
    Except that Clark lies by omission by making it seem as if the case was decide in the prosecution's favor…which is not so. The case is still being decided.

    Castaigne • Jan 23, 2014 @5:20 am
    The answer to that is a big fat nope. Not innocent in the least.

    Castaigne:

    I am impressed by the sheer pants-on-head idiocy and hypocrisy required to castigate Clark for allegedly implying that the case was decided in the prosecution's favor, only to then state affirmatively that the case was decided in the prosecution's favor six minutes later. That's incredible.

  35. James Pollock says:

    "Tricking guilty into making true confessions = good."

    Oh really? Your momma was probably fond of saying "Two wrongs don't make a right", mine was.

    Why would you think that tricking people is inherently "bad"?

    There's any number of examples where tricking people is not "bad" (say, magic shows), which suggests that it's not the "tricking people" part that is bad, but rather, the bad part is why they are tricked.
    (Note also that "tricking guilty into making true confessions" includes undercover operations. I'll concede that some undercover operations are not good, but not that none of them are.)

    To summarize, deceit is a tool, and like any other tool, can be used for good or ill depending on the intentions of the wielder.

  36. James Pollock says:

    If the purpose of the interview were to gather additional facts that could then be independently proven true or false, that would be one thing. But in reality, once a confession is obtained, all further investigation stops.

    This is not necessarily the case. First, many high-profile cases receive MULTIPLE "confessions", which must be investigated. Second, you still need evidence to convict if the suspect isn't going to plead guilty. Since the vast majority of guilty pleas are part of plea bargains, the police want to hand the prosecutor the strongest case possible, for use in plea bargaining even if it never goes to court.

    Sure, the videotape where the suspect says "I'm the guy who did it" is strong evidence, but it's even better when you ALSO have the bloodstained clothes the suspect was wearing, the bloody knife that was used on the victim, the fingerprint examiner's report that the fingerprints on the handle of the knife match the suspect's, and the lab technician's word that the blood on the knife matches the blood on the clothes matches the victim's.

  37. James Pollock says:

    I am impressed by the sheer pants-on-head idiocy and hypocrisy required to castigate Clark for allegedly implying that the case was decided in the prosecution's favor, only to then state affirmatively that the case was decided in the prosecution's favor six minutes later. That's incredible.

    You missed the fact that these are two different things. The original court case was decided in the prosecution's favor (i.e., a conviction). The appeal, which is to answer the question of whether the police tactics used to obtain a confession were acceptable, is ongoing. These are different proceedings to answer different questions (one factual, one legal).

  38. Owen says:

    The appeal, which is to answer the question of whether the police tactics used to obtain a confession were acceptable, is ongoing.

    No, this is not an academic question about police tactics. The central question in this appeal is whether his confession, the evidence used to convict him at trial, is valid. If it is not valid, his conviction was wrongful and will be vacated – i.e., he will be determined to be, and to always have been, innocent. Therefore, the question of whether he is innocent is still very much in dispute. So, as to Castaigne's statement:

    "The answer to [whether he is innocent] is a big fat nope. Not innocent in the least."

    How can that be affirmatively stated, again? Not innocent in the least, yet here we are discussing a case which is deciding if he is innocent…?

  39. Waldo says:

    @ Tim, "Oh really? Your momma was probably fond of saying "Two wrongs don't make a right", mine was."

    Yes she was. The problem is your assumption is that a police lie is necessarily a "wrong." I find that a dubious proposition in cases where it leads to a just and beneficial result.

  40. fnorgby says:

    @waldo

    Speaking in very broad strokes — in principle (not implying that's what happened here):

    When you imbue someone with the power to extract an incriminating statement from any suspect s/he chooses, subject only to that person's discretion only to use the power on those s/he already believes is guilty, you subvert the entire jury system.

    The point of this ancient custom is that it should never be down to one person's decision who gets convicted and who doesn't (Except where a defendant waives that right).

    Given that we know that the premise appears to be true (under unconstrained conditions, cops can get confessions out of anyone), then the system is only going to be safe — YOU are only going to be safe — if the practice is made out to be not worth the police's effort to try.

    That means: Exclusionary rule for questionable confessions. In my opinion at least.

  41. AlphaCentauri says:

    The problem is your assumption is that a police lie is necessarily a "wrong." I find that a dubious proposition in cases where it leads to a just and beneficial result.

    Okay, then let's go with the one that says the ends don't justify the means.

    Sure, the videotape where the suspect says "I'm the guy who did it" is strong evidence, but it's even better when you ALSO have the bloodstained clothes the suspect was wearing, the bloody knife that was used on the victim, the fingerprint examiner's report that the fingerprints on the handle of the knife match the suspect's, and the lab technician's word that the blood on the knife matches the blood on the clothes matches the victim's.

    Unfortunately, DNA testing is expensive. The prosecution would prefer not to spend that money. Trying to force them to do so is an expensive proposition for most defendants.

    How many of us (at least those of us with kids) have no blood stains anywhere in our cars or homes?

  42. James Pollock says:

    Unfortunately, DNA testing is expensive. The prosecution would prefer not to spend that money.

    And they won't, if the defendant appears prepared to plead guilty. Or if the weight of other evidence is such that they can win without it.

    On the other hand, if winning the case is as easy as having the blood tested, and it turns out that the defandant's bloody clothes have none of the victim's blood on them, well… that's why the defense has access to evidence collected, and the opportunity to do its own testing.

    It is absolutely possible to pressure people into confessing to things they haven't done (even absent what people would label "torture")… the core legal judgment of the Miranda case is that custodial interrogation is inherently coercive, and anyone with an interest can draw forth examples of false confessions extracted by overzealous law enforcement. (Besides the Happy Face Killer case I noted earlier, the Central Park Five comes to mind readily.)

    That's why you have a right to have an attorney present during questioning, and why it's a very bad idea to waive that right. Decades of television cop shows have ensured that pretty much every American can recite a Miranda warning.

    The danger is not so much that you'll accidentally say "I did (crime under investigation)"… cases of that do occur (particularly where defendant is or was intoxicated or otherwise impaired) but what you actually have to guard against is accidentally speaking about some crime or infraction other than the one currently being investigated, or revealing some knowledge about the crime which, combined with other evidence may make you look guilty even if you're not.

  43. htom says:

    If you suspect the police might be lying … they are.

    If you don't suspect the police of lying … they probably are, just to stay in practice.

    Advantage to police in telling the truth: none.

    Advantage to police in lying: confession, conviction, or both.

    Why would they not lie?

  44. Dan Weber says:

    Do you think the police should be permitted to lie to a suspect

    Definitely. But the fruits of their lies should be limited. At the least, direct testimony from suspects said in response to the lies should be off the table.

    I'd be willing to explore forbidding the police from promising deals they do not have the authority to keep as well.

  45. Castaigne says:

    @Clark:

    Indeed. Please point out to me where I said it wasn't?

    You didn't say the case had been decided. But you implied, via your standard The-Government-Is-Always-Wrong snide remarks about the judge, the prosecution, and the police, that the judges had favored the prosecution in the case and decided against the defendant. At least, this is the clear meaning I infer from your post. I also point out that a honest and objective post would be very, very clear that the case is still being decided.

    Was linking to the original article somehow part of my clever plan to deceive people?

    Oh, please. When you or anyone else here post something, people trust that you are presenting them the unvarnished fact. You can provide the trough, but putting a sign up saying that the water is poisoned…people are not going to let their horse drink.

    In short, your general readers are not going to go to the original article because they trust you to tell the truth.

    What sort of barn did your mother raise you in abandon you at, such that this is your idea of how to interact with people?

    I was raised to tell the truth and shame the Devil, Clark. As a supposed fellow Catholic, you should also subscribe to this. I'm sorry if I tell the truth about you; would you prefer I sin and lie?

    I say nothing to you here that I would not say to your face in real life. Also, Flag on the play: tone argument.

    When Ken and Patrick discuss banning you, I'll argue strongly for keeping you around, from first principles

    And that's a lie too; if you had didn't have a problem with me, you wouldn't want me banned.

    @Grandy:

    The question before us today, Castaigne, is whether you can go about questioning Clark's posts/methods (a reasonable thing to do) without shitting all over yourself (not a reasonable thing to do).

    Define "shitting all over yourself".
    If you're referring to the use of profanity and being very blunt with the truth, then Flag on the play: tone argument.

  46. Castaigne says:

    @Chris Rhodes:

    How do you know, "in actuality"? "It can't be a false confession because he confessed!" isn't the strongest of arguments.

    If you look up and read through the documents of the case, you'll find that corroborating physical evidence was found.

    @Owen:

    I am impressed by the sheer pants-on-head idiocy and hypocrisy required to castigate Clark for allegedly implying that the case was decided in the prosecution's favor, only to then state affirmatively that the case was decided in the prosecution's favor six minutes later. That's incredible.

    Since you misunderstood me, I must not have been clear. The defendant is definitely guilty of the crime, if the whole of the evidence of the case is brought into it. The current case involving the validity of the confession has not yet been decided.

  47. Xenocles says:

    "I say nothing to you here that I would not say to your face in real life. Also, Flag on the play: tone argument."

    The label "tone argument" is inapt because it's not an argument. It's a service of notice to you that the people whom you are trying to engage don't want to talk to you. Whom are you trying to convince, the people you are addressing or some third party? Tone matters not to the validity of the argument but to the conduct of the conversation. If a conversation is in fact what you seek, you would be well served to govern yourself accordingly.

  48. Castaigne says:

    @Xenocles:

    The label "tone argument" is inapt because it's not an argument.

    "Tone argument" is a colloquialism for the use of comment of tone as a derailing tactic. Which is what both Clark and Grandy attempted to do; "You're being hostile so I don't have to listen to the substance of what you say." It's very common for the privileged to use that tactic.

    It's a service of notice to you that the people whom you are trying to engage don't want to talk to you.

    Of course they don't want to talk to me. I'm not a sycophant who's going to agree with them.

    Whom are you trying to convince, the people you are addressing or some third party?

    I'm not trying to convince anybody of anything. I'm calling out what I see.

    Tone matters not to the validity of the argument but to the conduct of the conversation.

    Conduct is irrelevant. Validity is the only thing that matters. Pooh-poohing the conduct instead of addressing the validity is a derailing tactic.

    Only the substance is of importance.

    If a conversation is in fact what you seek, you would be well served to govern yourself accordingly.

    All I'm doing is commenting on a post and what the author of the post has written. You don't have "conversations" on the internet outside of some instant messaging protocol.

  49. Xenocles says:

    "Only the substance is of importance."

    Only if you are an academic or a scientist. If you are out to convince, to truly engage an audience and change hearts and minds, you will find that substance is far from the only important thing. The other people may be ultimately responsible for listening, but surely you bear some responsibility if you make it harder for them to listen than it has to be.

    But I've probably said enough. I wish you luck on whatever your mission is, for I fear you will desperately need it.

  50. Xenocles says:

    Because I can't leave well enough alone I would also remind you that if you are posting on this blog you are indeed very much engaged in a conversation. It may be a conversation with long lapses between replies, but in all the other ways that matter it is a conversation – and at that one between people who at least pretend to some degree of friendship or fellowship.

  51. Owen says:

    Castaigne:

    Since you misunderstood me, I must not have been clear. The defendant is definitely guilty of the crime, if the whole of the evidence of the case is brought into it. The current case involving the validity of the confession has not yet been decided.

    I'll refer you to my previous response to James Pollock on this issue and sum up with this simple question:

    What is the result if this appeal is decided in Mr. Thomas's favor?

    The idea that someone will be considered guilty "if the whole of the evidence of the case is brought into it" is not helpful to your argument. The statement assumes that the evidence is valid. The "whole of the evidence" could include confessions by torture, false confessions, hearsay witnesses, trials by combat, and divinations of seers, to name a brief few. That is why courts attempt to ensure that the only evidence that is entered against a person is valid and admissible under the rules of evidence. If evidence is not entered because it is invalid, it does nothing to say "but if the whole of the evidence was admitted, he'd be guilty!"

    You might as well say "but if we coerced a confession out of him, he'd be guilty!" But, since that's exactly what this appeal is about, I guess we're going in circles now…

  52. Castaigne says:

    @Xenocles:

    Only if you are an academic or a scientist.

    Or are rational.

    If you are out to convince, to truly engage an audience and change hearts and minds, you will find that substance is far from the only important thing.

    1) I'm not out to convince anyone. I leave that to salesmen and politicians.
    2) You're right; the best way to convince people is not to use substance. It's to lie and tell them exactly what they want to hear. Government is the source of all evil and anarchy is the way to go. Obama is Muslim Communist dedicated to the destruction of America. Big Pharma is suppressing all of the cures for cancer and AIDS. That's how you Win Friends And Influence People. By telling them what they want to hear.

    I wish you luck on whatever your mission is, for I fear you will desperately need it.

    I have no mission except for my own amusement and satisfaction. I am completing that mission quite well and need no luck, thank you.

    and at that one between people who at least pretend to some degree of friendship or fellowship.

    I disagree completely. You don't know me from Jack or Adam and there's no reason why you should, or that you should even care. This is the Internet. We're all just digital nonentities here.

    @Owen:

    What is the result if this appeal is decided in Mr. Thomas's favor?

    Then the confession will be considered null and void and the case remanded back to the lower court for retrial. In which case I am absolutely confident that Mr Thomas will then be reconvicted on the remaining evidence, especially that provided by the medical examiner and the pathologist.

    The confession is not necessary to establish his guilt. Handy, but not necessary.

  53. AlphaCentauri says:

    People like Xenocles are not digital non-entities to me. Knowing people by the thoughts they express in writing can produce more intimacy than face to face interactions in many situations. That's why premarital counseling programs often involve having the couples write letters to one another instead of only having conversations in person.

  54. Xenocles says:

    "You don't know me from Jack or Adam and there's no reason why you should, or that you should even care. This is the Internet. We're all just digital nonentities here."

    If you truly believe this then you don't belong here. I have absolutely no say in the matter so this is not a threat, but sooner or later this sentiment will catch up to you with people who do have a say. This is not just "the Internet" but a specific part of the internet subject to specific rules. Your participation is contingent on your satisfying the administrators that you intend to comply with those rules. For my part I like the environment that those rules foster.

    Your disregard for local conventions and civility is as rational as it would be to disregard the need an engine has for oil.

  55. Castaigne says:

    @AlphaCentauri:

    People like Xenocles are not digital non-entities to me.

    *shrug* If that's your thing, bud.

    Knowing people by the thoughts they express in writing can produce more intimacy than face to face interactions in many situations.

    Yeah, that doesn't happen to me.

    @Xenocles:

    If you truly believe this then you don't belong here.

    I read this sentence with a contemptuous snort. So YOU say. That's really up to the mods and whatever they decide. This is their dictatorship, after all.

    This is not just "the Internet" but a specific part of the internet subject to specific rules. Your participation is contingent on your satisfying the administrators that you intend to comply with those rules.

    I understand that completely; nothing I've said disagrees with that. Whether not I intend on complying or not complying with whatever dictates are issued is completely my business. And whether or not the mods choose to tolerate that is their business. And whatever choose to do is their business. And that's all there is to it. Free will, so on, whatever.

    Your disregard for local conventions and civility is as rational as it would be to disregard the need an engine has for oil.

    A rational person has no need to ameliorate the facts or speak less than bluntly. The rational person gives their opinion as desired, stated completely and without softening. To speak honestly is to use blunt speech like a cleansing sword of flame, burning away the tissues of "local conventions and civility", or more correctly, lies and falsehoods and toadying used to butter up people you don't want to offend.

    The rational person does not care who he offends, as honest people appreciate the truth regardless of the form it takes and only liars cavil and pound the pulpit demanding "civility".

  56. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Castaigne

    Your disregard for local conventions and civility is as rational as it would be to disregard the need an engine has for oil.

    A rational person has no need to ameliorate the facts or speak less than bluntly. The rational person gives their opinion as desired, stated completely and without softening. To speak honestly is to use blunt speech like a cleansing sword of flame, burning away the tissues of "local conventions and civility", or more correctly, lies and falsehoods and toadying used to butter up people you don't want to offend.

    The rational person does not care who he offends, as honest people appreciate the truth regardless of the form it takes and only liars cavil and pound the pulpit demanding "civility".

    I wasn't aware that being oblivious to your surroundings and the effects of your actions on others was a required part of being rational. You learn something every day.

  57. AlphaCentauri says:

    @Castaigne

    Yeah, that doesn't happen to me.

    Yeah, no shit ;)

    But it's worth giving it a try.

  58. Xenocles says:

    If it helps, Castaigne, just think of it as noblesse obllige from you to the rest of us irrational untermenschen. If that doesn't help, think of yourself as one of these guys. If that doesn't help, I have probably exhausted my abilities and as before I wish you luck.

  59. babaganusz says:

    it's admirable if y'all want to stand up for sophisticated exchanges, but the Castaigne already played both the 'i'm merely amusing myself' and 'nobody here can cope with disagreement' cards. it only appears to show an appreciation for complexity [at least in its own delivery] when in contrast to the simpler comments calling its binary interpretations into question.

  60. AlphaCentauri says:

    You can conclude he's a troll and feel that his input isn't wanted. Or you can give him the benefit of the doubt and think maybe he's just not understanding what he's missing when he participates in online discussions without thinking of the other participants as fellow humans.

    He's spent a lot of time composing replies to specific comments here, so I tend to think it's the latter.

  61. babaganusz says:

    indeed. i spend a lot of time on the proverbial fence (particularly as far as the conclusion/benefit options you mention) and was mostly just observing the dull barricades it gets to skulk behind at its leisure.

  1. January 23, 2014

    […] 3: Clark, at Popehat again, presents another example of undue pressure to gain a confession.  The judges were aware of the problem, but, hey, precedent must be preserved. More here on false […]