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Friday, May 23, 2014

New Required Recording Of Interrogations Leaves Loopholes For Abuse

Following years of protests, the Justice Department announced yesterday (May 22, 2014) that starting July 2014 it will now require that interrogations be recorded of suspects taken into custody in certain instances. 

The change in policy is progress towards actual justice, and supports the inference that recording interviews can only promote the cause of justice by reducing the potential for abuse, inaccuracies or harmful errors caused by future reliance upon the potentially faulty notetaking of federal agents in question and answer sessions of suspects.

Despite the progress, this revised policy, however, leaves in place the potential for abuse identified by Eric Dixon in July 2011.  That concern centered around the fear that prosecutors could merely refuse to interview someone, whom they have not yet arrested and may never arrest or indict, when they were afraid that the interview would exonerate or exculpate that person. In such instances, refusing to interview a target, witness or subject of an investigation would preserve the prosecutors' plausible deniability and allow .

In plain English, it means that prosecutors can still engage in pressure and other questionable investigative tactics against some pretty innocent people as long as they never arrest them or interview them. Once arrested, 

In legal circles, this is called "willful blindness" and sometimes is used to show the criminal intent or state of mind of the accused which is a necessary element for proving a crime. Wouldn't prosecutors' refusal to interview witnesses similarly show their state of mind in consciously avoiding actions which would tend to uncover or exonerate their targets?

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