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Bennett Haselton's Response To That "Don't Talk to Cops" Video

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the to-talk-or-not-to-talk dept.

Privacy 871

In response to both of my previous articles raising questions about the Fifth Amendment, people sent me a link to a famous video titled "Don't Talk To Cops" delivered by Regents University law professor James Duane. Whether his conclusion is correct or not, I think the argument is flawed in several ways. Please continue reading below to see what I think is wrong with his position.

In my first article about the Fifth Amendment, I asked: Why is it a good thing that the Fifth Amendment allows a suspect to refuse to answer "Yes" or "No" as to whether they committed a crime or not? (I was emphatically not saying that a suspect should have to answer questions that are nobody else's business -- if you weren't at the scene of the crime, you should be free to say, "I wasn't at the scene of the crime, but I would prefer not to tell you where I was." However, the Fifth Amendment lets you refuse to answer the question of whether you even committed the crime at all, and I didn't see what was so great about that, because it is everybody's legitimate business whether or not you committed the crime.)

In the second article, I asked a different question: If you do accept the rationale for allowing a suspect to refuse to answer the question of whether they committed the crime or not, why don't we extend the same protection to third-party witnesses? In other words, if Bob commits a crime and Alice is a witness, and the police ask Bob and Alice the same question -- "Did Bob do it?" -- and both refuse to answer, then Bob is allowed to do this but Alice can go to jail for remaining silent, even though Bob might be guilty, and Alice is the one who is known to be innocent! That seems crazy.

The full arguments are given in each of the articles linked above (and dissected further in the comments) and I don't want to rehash either of them here, but in response to both articles, multiple people sent me the link to Professor Duane's "Don't Talk To Cops" video, which has been viewed about 2 million times on Youtube. (Professor Duane also ceded half his presentation time to police officer George Bruch, giving him the chance to offer a 'rebuttal', which has been uploaded as a separate video -- Bruch's video has been viewed about 1 million times.) I've watched Professor Duane's presentation twice, and one problem I have with the video is that I don't know what Professor Duane's actual position is. Yes, he says that he would "never talk to any police officer under any circumstances, ever", but does that really mean that if he witnessed a violent altercation on the street and the cops wanted to ask him about it, that he wouldn't say a word to them? Or, if he got pulled over for speeding, would he really hand over his license and registration and then sit silently in the driver's seat refusing to respond the cop's questions (which pretty much eliminates your chance at being let off with a warning)? What if his house got broken into, would he really refuse to call the cops and tell them? And, uh, there's a police officer who co-presents in the video with him, didn't Professor Duane have to talk to him to get him in the video? In fact, he speaks directly to the cop on camera! Busted!

"Oh, stop being so literal, Bennett, you know that's not what he meant!" OK, but what did he mean? One problem with staking out a fairly extreme position to begin with, is that if you describe it hyperbolically, there's no way for people to know what your actual position is. I emailed Professor Duane to ask if he could clarify, but didn't get a response. (Since his video has been viewed over 2 million times, possibly my email got lost in the pile of mails he gets every week saying, "Oh shit I got arrested and I opened my big mouth, you got any ideas for what I should do now??")

For the purpose of this discussion, let's assume that Professor Duane means that if the police approached him with questions about a crime (and excluding "hot pursuit" situations such as when the police are chasing a mugger and ask "Which way did he go?"), he would refuse to talk to them. In that case, I have a couple of points to make in response to the video, but first, if you haven't seen it, you may want to watch it now, along with the 'rebuttal' offered by police officer George Bruch, and see if you come up with the same objections that I did.

Everybody back? OK, here are my thoughts:

1. The video is answering a different question from the one I asked. The video weighs the costs and benefits to the individual, of remaining silent; I was asking whether the defendant's right to remain silent is good for society as a whole. Of course if you're innocent, then it's in both your interest and society's interest for you to go free. If you're guilty, on the other hand, you may want to walk free, but it's usually in your society's interest for you to be convicted. (You could argue an exception for pot laws or whatever, but generally speaking, we do want criminals to get caught.)

Professor Duane, beginning at the 24:50 mark, specifically invokes Martha Stewart, Marion Jones, and Michael Vick, as examples of people who he thinks would have gotten lighter sentences, or gotten off completely, if they had remained silent throughout their legal ordeals. Yes, but all three of those people were guilty (Martha Stewart, very probably; Jones and Vick, beyond any doubt), so while it may have been better for them to remain silent, it would not have been better for the legal system as a whole. (All three of them had supporters who said the laws they were being charged under, were unjust in the first place, but that's a separate problem.)

This is not an explicit error on Professor Duane's part -- since he was arguing that remaining silent is good for the individual, not for society -- but it does mean the video is not precisely a response to the point I was making.

2. The argument about the danger of talking to cops is based on a sampling error. Professor Duane says that criminal defense attorneys "always, always say it was a bad idea for their client to talk to the police". But this sample obviously only includes people who talked to the police and ended up getting arrested, and charged, and needing a criminal defense attorney. The sample wouldn't include anyone that the police talked to and decided not to arrest -- whether they were initially brought in as a suspect but then convinced the police that they were innocent, or whether they were simply third-party witnesses who volunteered information to the police that they thought was useful.

In fact, in the 'rebuttal' video from Officer Bruch, he says at the 6:20 mark:

"You're going to lose [in the police interrogation room], unless you're purely innocent. On the other side of it, I don't want to put anyone who's innocent in jail. I try not to bring anyone in to the interview room who's innocent. And there are a couple that I have let walk away because they were innocent."

This appears to contradict Professor Duane, who said repeatedly that even if you're innocent, "it CANNOT help" to talk to the police, and that "you CANNOT talk to the police out of arresting you". Unless Bruch was lying, then Duane's statement was wrong, although neither of them seemed to notice. But if you did talk the police out of arresting you, then you wouldn't end up in Professor Duane's sample of people whose ended up needing a defense lawyer.

And even this sample is restricted to people who are brought into the interrogation room, where Officer Bruch said he tried not to bring anybody in at all unless the thought they were probably guilty. If you include all the people that the cops try and talk to, who the police don't think are guilty -- people casually stopped on the street, or called on the phone, or visited in their house, because they might have relevant information -- then your sample becomes much larger, and the proportion who talk to the cops and do not subsequently get in trouble, goes way up.

Also, of course, Professor Duane's sample includes people who talked to the police and were convicted, who were in fact guilty. Their defense attorneys may wish that their clients had kept silent and possibly walked free as a result, but that wouldn't be good for the rest of us.

3. His advice ignores the benefits of leniency if you're guilty and you're almost positive you'll be caught anyway. For most of this discussion I've been focusing on the merits of talking to the police if you're innocent. But Officer Bruch also says that if people in the interrogation room answer questions and cooperate, then even if they're ultimately convicted, the police do testify to the judge that you were cooperative, and the judge can take that into account and reduce your prison sentence. That is at least theoretically another legitimate reason to violate Professor Duane's "Don't Talk To Cops" rule, if you're 99% sure that the police will find enough evidence to convict you anyway, you can hope for leniency by cooperating. That's essentially why I do talk to the police if I get pulled over for speeding -- I've gotten off with a warning a few times, whereas I'm pretty sure that if I'd just sat silently and stared straight ahead, I would have gotten the ticket.

4. Professor Duane's argument is about talking to the cops; I'm asking about the merits of the Fifth Amendment as it applies in a courtroom as well. At the 15:22 mark, for example, Professor Duane gives the fictional example of a suspect who says to the police:

"I don't know what you are talking about. I didn't kill Jones and I don't know who did. I wasn't anywhere near that place. I don't have a gun, and I have never owned a gun in my life. I don't even know how to use a gun. Yeah, sure I never liked the guy, but who did? I wouldn't kill him. I've never hurt anybody in my life, and I would never do such a thing."

Professor Duane continues: "Let's suppose every word of that is true, 100% of it is true. What will the jury hear at trial? 'Officer Bruch, was there anything about your interrogation, your interview with the suspect that made you concerned that he might be the right one?' 'Yes sir there was. He confessed to me that He never liked the guy.'"

Even if that scenario is a valid reason not to talk to the police, it wouldn't be possible in a courtroom, where all of your answers are recorded, and it will be obvious if someone is trying to distort the meaning of something that you said earlier.

This is also not an error on Professor Duane's part, since his talk was called "Don't Talk To Cops", not "Don't Ever Answer Questions In Court". (While he's right that most criminal defense attorneys wish that their clients had not talked to the police, some criminal defense attorneys do encourage their clients to take the stand at trial.) So it's not relevant to the question of whether society benefits from giving defendants a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in a courtroom.

5. Finally, are the police really that corrupt and/or stupid? Go back up to Professor Duane's hypothetical in which a suspect protests his innocence, and Duane imagines that Officer Bruch -- Professor Duane's real-life co-presenter in this talk! -- takes five words out of context and testifies in court, "He confessed to me, 'I never liked the guy'."

When the real Officer Bruch gave his 'rebuttal', he started out by started out by saying, "Everything he just said was true. And it was right, and it was correct." If I had been in the room at the time, I would have asked him, "Seriously? Were you listening when Professor Duane said that if a suspect protested his innocence in the way that he described, you would take that out-of-context quote and only tell the jury that he said 'I never liked the guy?'" Well, we already know that George Bruch didn't really agree with everything that Professor Duane said, since Bruch contradicted him on some points, such as Duane's claim that "talking to the police cannot possibly help you even if you're innocent". But I would have liked for Officer Bruch to say if he thinks the police are anywhere as stupid and corrupt as Professor Duane was implying that they are.

More to the point -- and I went into this in my first article about the Fifth Amendment -- if the police and the courts are even remotely that corrupt and incompetent, then that's a wide-ranging problem that applies to all types of evidence gathered in the case, not just statements from suspect. And if that's the case, then the Fifth Amendment is just a band-aid that only solves the stupid-cops-and-courts problem as it applies to suspect statements specifically. It doesn't solve the problem as it applies to circumstantial evidence, unreliable eyewitness testimony, false memories, evaluating the credibility of other witnesses, and other factors.

In other words, if you're arrested, suppose the cops really are so dumb and/or evil that they would quote your "I never liked the guy" out of context to try and get you convicted. So, taking Professor Duane's advice, you say nothing. Do you still trust those same police officers to handle the other aspects of your case fairly? To make sure any exculpatory evidence is brought to light? To interrogate other witnesses without leading them towards a pre-set conclusion?

As I said in my first article, that doesn't mean that this is not a valid argument for the Fifth Amendment. But it means that if this is the primary argument in favor of the Fifth Amendment, then what the people making this argument are really saying, is that the whole system is broken.

The Weekly Standard published a more devastating rebuttal to Professor Duane's video, in which the author describes the devastating effects that the "Don't Snitch" movement has had on high-crime neighborhoods, as a result of large numbers of people following Professor Duane's philosophy to the letter. The article quoted one rap celebrity saying that he wouldn't even tell the police about a known murderer living next door to him. Professor Duane may not endorse that view directly, but he could hardly disagree that it follows logically from his admonition to "never talk to the police under any circumstances, ever". This is essentially the same logic error that I pointed out in point #2 -- if you focus only on people who talked to the police and ended up getting arrested, you're ignoring the benefits of people talking to the police who not only don't get arrested, but may help stop a crime or catch a criminal. It might still be a bad idea on balance to talk the police, but you couldn't make that argument by limiting your sample to the people who get arrested.

More generally, there may be an argument why either the individual or society benefits from the legal right to remain silent -- but it would have to be based on a sample drawn from all innocent people who talk to the cops, and the proportion who subsequently benefit as a result, and the proportion who are subsequently penalized, and weighing the magnitude of the benefits versus the drawbacks, and the likelihood of each. The "Don't Talk To Cops" video doesn't do that.

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Shoot first (5, Insightful)

suso (153703) | about a year ago | (#45059001)

Given recent events, you'd be lucky if you even had a chance to open your mouth.

Police and Judges. (5, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year ago | (#45059003)

"Did Bob do it?" -- and both refuse to answer, then Bob is allowed to do this but Alice can go to jail for remaining silent, even though Bob might be guilty, and Alice is the one who is known to be innocent! That seems crazy. "

You are mixing police and justice.
Both Bob and Alice should not be talking to the police.
Then the chances that one of them will be accused is much slimmer.
Not talking to the police is allowed, not service as a witness before a judge not.

" It might still be a bad idea on balance to talk the police, but you couldn't make that argument by limiting your sample to the people who get arrested. "

If you don't talk to the police, chances are great that you will never be arrested and put before a judge, rightfully so or not.
Ask Martha, she went to jail for lying to the police, that's always the risk, even if you escape being punished for the real alleged crime.

That was kind of his point, which you seem to have missed entirely.

Re:Police and Judges. (5, Insightful)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#45059131)

More to the point if you the original video say to not answer any questions until you have your legal representation present. This guy seems to think that is bad for justice some how not to wait until your attorney to be present.

Re:Police and Judges. (4, Interesting)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about a year ago | (#45059209)

All that is true and Haselton is responding to something he was never asked to begin with. The video was up for quite some time before he wrote his articles. If he formulated an actual response to the video, rather than a response to himself using a video that never anticipated him as some sort of 'evidence,' he might form a better argument. But I doubt that.

Re:Police and Judges. (5, Insightful)

MisterSquid (231834) | about a year ago | (#45059239)

What's really boneheaded about this rebuttal is that people who speak to the police provide material with which they can be convicted. Making a mistake when speaking to the police, which all of us do even under the most relaxed conditions, is called "lying" and is a felony in and of itself. In other words, misremembering something and telling the police about it is a felony.

For my money, I will take the advice of every defense attorney who has spoken on whether one should talk to police which is DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE WITHOUT THE PRESENCE OF YOUR ATTORNEY.

Re:Police and Judges. (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#45059353)

See, the difference between "don't talk to the police" and "don't talk to the police without an attorney" is huge, and the latter is a much more reasonable position to take. An innocent witness could reasonably want to tell the police what they know, but run it by their attorney first, but it's hard to take unnecessary silence as anything other than a denial of something. You can't legally make yourself guilty through silence, but you can certainly make yourself a suspect.

Re:Police and Judges. (1)

somersault (912633) | about a year ago | (#45059441)

Not sure why Samzenpus assumes that you shouldn't be a witness if you saw a crime take place. The whole point of the video is not to say anything if you're a suspect in a crime. Though I guess even admitting you were at the scene of a crime will have caused people problems in the past.

Re:Police and Judges. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#45059661)

Part of the point is that police don't have to tell you whether you're a suspect or a witness.

Re:Police and Judges. (4, Interesting)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#45059479)

Is it really a felony to lie to the police in the US? That stinks, and even worse if they truly prosecute otherwise innocent people for it. Over here (NL), lying to the police is not punishable, whether you are lying about a case that involves you, or one that you merely witnessed. The only times you are obliged by law to tell the truth is when the police ask for your identity, or when you're put under oath.

Re:Police and Judges. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059643)

Is it really a felony to lie to the police in the US? That stinks, and even worse if they truly prosecute otherwise innocent people for it. Over here (NL), lying to the police is not punishable, whether you are lying about a case that involves you, or one that you merely witnessed. The only times you are obliged by law to tell the truth is when the police ask for your identity, or when you're put under oath.

In the US we have a lot of "catch-all" laws like "obstruction of justice" and "resisting arrest", which are pretty broadly defined and even more broadly interpreted by law enforcement.

Re:Police and Judges. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059565)

1. Obviously every DEFENCE LAWYER will tell you not to talk to the police without a DEFENCE LAWYER. It's called a "vested interest".

2. Most people can't afford a lawyer. Or can only afford a crap one. Most of them are crap.

3. If you turn up with a lawyer and you're not the sort of person who can easily afford one then you are attracting suspicion.

4. You're not likely to be convicted for saying something like, "I think he was wearing a black hoodie", even if CCTV footage reveals that he was in fact wearing a blue hoodie. You might want to check the dictionary definition of "lying".

Re:Police and Judges. (5, Interesting)

anagama (611277) | about a year ago | (#45059655)

What's really scary about this rebuttal is the proposition that people should not have 5th amendment protections. Just how much more obvious does it have to be that we are falling into a police state/authoritarian mindset at an amazingly fast pace -- the very idea that this is up for debate is shocking. And worse, the author does so without even a remote sense of shame or embarrassment.

Re:Police and Judges. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059649)

"Did Bob do it?" -- and both refuse to answer, then Bob is allowed to do this but Alice can go to jail for remaining silent, even though Bob might be guilty, and Alice is the one who is known to be innocent! That seems crazy. "

You are mixing police and justice.
Both Bob and Alice should not be talking to the police.

Not only that, the statement is flawed and there are other similar flaws through the entire text.

Until the actual criminal have been found there is no reason to believe that Alice is more innocent than Bob is.
Bob may be accused, but there can be many persons accused of a crime that only one person committed and if Bob is found not guilty then there may be a reason to look more closely at Alice.
This is one of the reasons to why it is so important to hold to the old "Rather let a criminal go free than an innocent to jail." saying.
For every innocent you send to jail the real perpetrator goes free so you can get the former without the latter but the latter is an extra consequence of the former.

But the thing with allowing the accused to lie has more to do with the concept of "innocent before guilty".
If the accused actually are guilty then lying about it will be less of a crime. We can assume that a guilty person will lie regardless of if it is legal or not.
This creates an information inbalance in favor of the guilty over the innocent. The innocent is more likely to be a law-abiding citizen.
By making it legal for the accused to lie we force a situation where the judge and jury will have to take the possible lies into consideration and by this reducing the information advantage that the criminal had over the innocent.

This ties back to the previous idea. It is better to let a crime go unsolved than to risk putting the wrong person in jail. It is better to know that the rapist is still running around than to falsely think that you are safe just because someone has gone to jail.

Silly. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059019)

Even the first point was silly, as it presumes that authority figures are perfect angels. Looks like someone doesn't understand the fifth amendment...

Re:Silly. (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#45059101)

Or the whole point of government, for that matter.

Re:Silly. (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#45059275)

In other words, if you're arrested, suppose the cops really are so dumb and/or evil that they would quote your "I never liked the guy" out of context to try and get you convicted. So, taking Professor Duane's advice, you say nothing. Do you still trust those same police officers to handle the other aspects of your case fairly? To make sure any exculpatory evidence is brought to light? To interrogate other witnesses without leading them towards a pre-set conclusion?

His opinion seems to be "if they're so corrupt to take you out of context they'll screw you some other way so you may as well make said screwing easier for them". What he doesn't understand is that even if the entire system is 90% squeaky clean, the 10% can still ruin your life forever. Especially when the 90% don't do their job in identifying and removing from power the 10%.

I wish someone would make a cop show a la Breaking Bad. A good cop, doing the best that he can. Bends the rules occasionally to get the job done but things slowly, inevitably get out of hand as the bending becomes breaking and the breaking becomes outright flaunting. End it with him sending someone to death row and the whole thing finally come crashing down on his head. Hell, I'd just be happy if once the "bad guy" that they railroaded into a conviction from one episode turned out to be innocent later on and the real criminal is off killing people in the meantime.

Re:Silly. (2)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | about a year ago | (#45059601)

They did make that show, it was called "The Shield". Starts a little bit down the road from "good guy" (ok, well a lot) but they flash back to where they started before they became so corrupt. Not as even-keel as BB in terms of season to season quality, but in the same manner they tend to escalate season to season, and part of the fun is to watch them try harder and harder to keep things in control.

Re:Silly. (1)

Drakonblayde (871676) | about a year ago | (#45059611)

I wish someone would make a cop show a la Breaking Bad. A good cop, doing the best that he can. Bends the rules occasionally to get the job done but things slowly, inevitably get out of hand as the bending becomes breaking and the breaking becomes outright flaunting.

They did. It was called The Shield.

Re:Silly. (5, Insightful)

Peristaltic (650487) | about a year ago | (#45059305)

Bennett sounds like he has the luxury of time in a quiet, relatively stress-free environment to calculate hazard ratios and probabilities, unlike most people thrown with little warning into a possibly contentious interrogation.

To be honest, he comes off sounding like a hair-splitting idealist.

As unlikely as it might be, If I ever find myself having to deal with US authorities in a situation involving a criminal case, I think that I'll follow Professor Duane's advice.

By the way, who is this guy that gets to editorialize on Slashdot? Are the Dice suits trying to liven things up?

Re:Silly. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#45059395)

The point of authority figures is to do more good than harm, and sometimes they really don't even make that low bar. The bill of rights was an attempt to stop the most common ways authority figures could do harm to help balance that equation better.

Re:Silly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059429)

The entire argument is silly. What was missed in this rebuttal was not that you should never talk to the cops, but that you should never talk to the cops when you could be found liable in some way WITHOUT a lawyer. If it is a serious situation, get a lawyer and have them talk for you. It is that simple. You can do your civic duty to help the police while not allowing corrupt assholes to fuck with you.

Re:Silly. (5, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#45059609)

The Weekly Standard published a more devastating rebuttal to Professor Duane's video, in which the author describes the devastating effects that the "Don't Snitch" movement has had on high-crime neighborhoods, as a result of large numbers of people following Professor Duane's philosophy to the letter

How is that even a rebuttal? The devastating effects are the result of criminals, not of Prof. Duane's position, and it in no way invalidates his statement. If the police want people to talk to them, they need to make very, very sure that innocent people truly have nothing to fear from them. A lot of people probably follow his advise because it it necessary.

How much did it cost (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059069)

How much did Bennett Haselton have to pay Dice Media to be allowed to post his comments above the big green line, instead of down here with us proles?

Re:How much did it cost (5, Insightful)

u38cg (607297) | about a year ago | (#45059287)

And why does anyone think the musings of some random asshole are better informed than an actual, y'know, law professor?

Re:How much did it cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059373)

+1 (they stopped giving me mod points on here years ago)

Martha Stewart (5, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about a year ago | (#45059085)

Why did Martha Steward go to jail?

If someone with that kind of money and influence can do time just for talking to cops - what do you think that means for the rest of us?

Re:Martha Stewart (5, Insightful)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about a year ago | (#45059257)

Why did Martha Steward go to jail?

If someone with that kind of money and influence can do time just for talking to cops - what do you think that means for the rest of us?

She went to jail for answering a question from a federal cop incorrectly. She was asked if she made money off of an investment and said "no," when in fact she did make money off of the investment. Even though there was no criminality on her part with the investment to begin with. It is right up there with going to jail because a cop asks you if the sky is blue and you give any answer at all.

Not "News for Nerds" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059095)

Why does Slashdot feel compelled to let itself be Bennett Haselton's personal political soapbox?

Re:Not "News for Nerds" (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45059155)

Apparently it fancies itself a junior high school version of Volokh Conspiracy and other constitutional law blogs.

Re:Not "News for Nerds" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059435)

You'd think, seeing as how this pisses off every reader of slashdot every time they do it, they'd, y'know, quit. Did he BUY slashdot or something?

Re:Not "News for Nerds" (4, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#45059489)

Sometimes Slashdot editors troll. They know that lots of readers like to argue, and that some like to argue so much, they'll argue with Bennett.

Re:Not "News for Nerds" (5, Insightful)

RogueyWon (735973) | about a year ago | (#45059555)

I've no idea what's been going on with slashdot for the last 6 months or so. I've seen perfectly reasonable science, IT and gaming submissions rejected, while the general drift seems to be towards "the crazier the submission the better".

There's been a big increase in accepted submissions which are inexplicable without prior knowledge of the issue (and without a useful article to elaborate), viciously partisan or, alternatively, huge walls of text devioid of formatting.

Something's gone badly wrong.

Who is Bennett Haselton . . . (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059103)

and why should I care about his take on this?

Re:Who is Larry Johann . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059213)

Tinfoil-hatted shitstormer from TFA.

Remember kids... (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#45059119)

"Anything you say CAN and WILL be used against you in a court of law."

This alone invalidates EVERYTHING said in this article.

Police look at every single civilian as an enemy first. Remember that.

Re:Remember kids... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059337)

EVERY civilian as an ENEMY? Including the civilians who work in the police stations?

Re:Remember kids... (2)

mdielmann (514750) | about a year ago | (#45059481)

EVERY civilian as an ENEMY? Including the civilians who work in the police stations?

Those aren't civilians, those are brothers in arms.

Re:Remember kids... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059493)

they're all spies for IAD, who are also the enemy.

Re:Remember kids... (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | about a year ago | (#45059477)

No it doesn't. I would reduce his article down to 2 exceptions. Feel free to talk to a officer about anything not worth hiring a lawyer over. It will be.much easier to talk the cop out of a ticket, than a judge on your own. My experience is almost all cops freely lie in court. They don't want to look bad for charging you, and are convinced they wouldn't write a ticket to a innocent person. So they will say anything to convict. Most people have little chance then.
It is fine to talk about others actions (unless your trying to protect them.). But this one requires alertness, and attention that many don't have. You need to shutup if the cop is asking questions about you, then he is building a case for arresting you,not the other guy.

civilian police officers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059507)

Police officers are themselves civilians. Even if the militarization of the police has gotten way out of hand, they are still civilians. It is telling that they try to put themselves above citizens by pretending that they are not also civilians. If we let them pretend long enough, the distinction might become real.

https://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/militarization-police [aclu.org]

A Few Years Late (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059149)

That video is a couple years old now. It went viral and talked about widely. Why in the world are you analyzing and discussing again now?

Next on Slashdot: Why we should not invade Iraq.

News for nerds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059157)

... stuff that matters?

Doesn't matter to me. Fuck off samzenpuss

Who is this guy? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059165)

Bennett Haselton is not a lawyer, a judge, or a cop. He has a degree in mathematics and is a computer professional. Why on earth should I be interested in his opinion on this topic?

Re:Who is this guy? (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45059273)

Bennett Haselton is not a lawyer, a judge, or a cop. He has a degree in mathematics and is a computer professional.

... and, apparently, so shitty at what he does professionally that he has the time to write novels on topics of law he obviously does not understand.

Nothing about this guy says, "I am someone worth paying attention to." Nothing.

Re:Who is this guy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059569)

i'm extremely good at what i do professionally.
because of this fact i have the time to write novels on topics of law i obviously do not understand.

i choose to do better things with my time, and i disagree with Mr Heselton on almost all counts.

Re:Who is this guy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059537)

It seems like he's the retarded step-son of the CEO of slashdot... letting him bang on his keyboard every once in a while makes his trophy-wife mom happy, so cigar-puffing CEO stepdad lets him do it.

Dear Slashdot (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059169)

Please stop posting the inane/insane/idiotic ramblings of your staffers.

Both of your questions are irrelevant (3, Insightful)

js3 (319268) | about a year ago | (#45059171)

"I was asking whether the defendant's right to remain silent is good for society as a whole"
The right is to the individual, not society. Besides that a lot of things could be crafted as "being good for society as a whole". Like telling people what to eat, drink and do.

"If you do accept the rationale for allowing a suspect to refuse to answer the question of whether they committed the crime or not, why don't we extend the same protection to third-party witnesses?"
There are some protections for 3rd party witnesses like spouses, it also varies depending on the circumstances like blackmail, fear or trauma. it's not black and white.

Re:Both of your questions are irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059369)

Can you even read? He asked whether the DEFENDANT'S right to remain silent is good as a whole. Obviously he is aware that the right belongs to...the defendant. Obviously an individual right can have a negative effect on society. This does not automatically mean that the right should be removed.

Dear Samzempus (4, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year ago | (#45059173)

Why do you think that your opinion trumps that of Regents University law professor James Duane?

Please either cite your relevant legal qualifications, or prefix your opinions with IANAL.

Oh yeah .. TL;ORTFS (Too long; only read TFS)

Re:Dear Samzempus (2, Informative)

Enry (630) | about a year ago | (#45059217)

Given the number of people who are actually innocent and wound up going to jail after intense questioning or through other faults in the legal system (some of which went to death row and have since been executed), I'd take the word of a law professor at an actual university over a no-name whatever-Bennett is.

Fundamentally flawed (5, Informative)

ziggy_az (40281) | about a year ago | (#45059201)

You must not have watched the entire video. The advice is "Don't talk to the cops without an attorney". There is always time later to confess, but the fundamental reality of our criminal justice system is that it is a bargaining table. A suspect who gives up everything they have to bargain with at the very beginning is ultimately unable to win a fair sentence. Again, the U.S. Criminal Justice system is a bargaining table. Lawyers know this. Judges know this. Pretty much all legal professionals know this. Therefor, don't talk to the cops *without a lawyer*.

Re:Fundamentally flawed (1)

Whatsisname (891214) | about a year ago | (#45059293)

The United states does not have a criminal justice system. It has a criminal legal system.

It is an important distinction to make.

Re:Fundamentally flawed (1)

deck (201035) | about a year ago | (#45059421)

I was going to make the same point. I viewed those videos a couple of years or more in the past. The main take away was to not talk to the police without a lawyer. If the police are wanting to convict someone or anyone no matter their innocence, they will try to ask leading and distorted questions to get the "right" answers.

Who? (5, Insightful)

luckymutt (996573) | about a year ago | (#45059211)

So who the fuck is Bennett Haselton? More importantly, why do we keep getting front page items about this one guy not understanding the basics of the Constitution? Sure it's a Monday, but why does anyone care about this turd arguing against something he clearly doesn't understand?

Re:Who? (1)

BenJeremy (181303) | about a year ago | (#45059491)

Well, he's got a lot of letters and syllables in his name, so he must be super smart and important, right?

Ban samzenpus posts. (0, Flamebait)

TwineLogic (1679802) | about a year ago | (#45059231)

What is this "article" doing on slashdot? The proposed idea is juvenile and not worth debating, but typical of the kind of nonsense that Libertarians think is worth their time to discuss.

Slashdot is not the correct place to post stupid Libertarian drivel. Or, if it is, may I delete my account?

Re:Ban samzenpus posts. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059365)

Huh? Libertarian? I think not! Libertarians place more value on individual liberty and freedom and would never be for suspending the 5th amendment just because it might under certain circumstances seem to be good or better for society.

Re:Ban samzenpus posts. (2)

DarthBling (1733038) | about a year ago | (#45059513)

It isn't, but please delete your account anyway.

I consider myself to have strong libertarian leanings, and I don't think this article belongs here either.

Re:Ban samzenpus posts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059629)

What is this "article" doing on slashdot? The proposed idea is juvenile and not worth debating, but typical of the kind of nonsense that Libertarians think is worth their time to discuss.

Slashdot is not the correct place to post stupid Libertarian drivel. Or, if it is, may I delete my account?

True.

Slashdot only approves of authoritarian-driven "progressive" drivel.

YOu clearly don't understand the (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#45059233)

historic reason for the 5th amendment. Until you do I suggest you stop proving yourself a fool.

Who is Mr. Haselton? Why should I care? (4, Insightful)

dfenstrate (202098) | about a year ago | (#45059243)

Should I care about his opinion? Well, I read a brief Bio on Wikipedia. While he's performed some impressive work, I don't see why, in the subject at hand, we should take his opinion over an experienced law professors, or even an ex-police officer's opinion.

Everyone's got a right to their own opinion, Bennett's in this case seems to be no more relevant that a couple college kids in a dorm bullsh*t session. Further, Bennett talks quite a bit about society's interest, which isn't a concern in the original video. It is in the interest of a Lawyer's individual client to not talk to the police- public interest be damned at that point.

Re:Who is Mr. Haselton? Why should I care? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059657)

Bennett talks quite a bit about society's interest

That's a clue right there. When a person trots out the "interest of society" line, it almost certainly means they are trying to justify something which is bad for the individual (i.e. an attack on individual rights). After all, if it wasn't something bad for the individual, they wouldn't need to justify it in the name of "society".

Missing the point (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about a year ago | (#45059255)

The problem with answering any questions is that the deck is stacked against you already, and answering without a lawyer that restores some semblance of balance to the ordeal is legal suicide.

To the society question, well this is what happens when the system is rigged against individuals. "Innocent Bystanders" are rarely good witnesses to the accuracy of events anyway, so the benefit to an investigation is limited.

Here's a better version (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059267)

A better version of the "Don't talk to Cops" video:

How not to get your ass kicked by the police [youtube.com]

Too many laws (3, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45059297)

However, the Fifth Amendment lets you refuse to answer the question of whether you even committed the crime at all, and I didn't see what was so great about that, because it is everybody's legitimate business whether or not you committed the crime.)

But *which* crime? There are so many laws that even the federal government can't tell you how many they are. How can anyone possibly know that they haven't committed a crime and that their statments might come back to bite them later?

Just like the huge tax code, the criminal code needs a major overhaul and simplification.

As Duane says:

[James Duane] Now. Here's part of the problem. The heart of the problem, as Justice Briar, on the U.S. Supreme Court explained in 1998 is, quote: "The complexity of modern federal criminal law, codified in several thousand sections of the United States Code, and virtually infinite variety of factual circumstances that might trigger an investigation into a possible violation of the law, make it difficult for anyone to know in advance just when a particular set of statements might later appear to a prosecutor to be relevant to some investigation."

One expert on criminal law recently noted "estimates of the current size of the body of federal criminal law vary, although it has been reported that the Congressional Research Service can no longer even count the current number of federal crimes." That's right, even the federal government has lost count. "These laws are scattered over all fifty pages of the U.S. Code, encompassing roughly twenty thousand pages. Worse yet, these statutes often incorporate by reference to the provisions of administrative regulations. Estimates of how many such regulations exist are even less well settled, although the ABA thinks there may be nearly ten thousand."

Nice try (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#45059301)

Do not talk to the cops, don't pay attention what this story tells you, do not talk to the cops, they are NOT on your side, they are on their own side and their side has nothing to do with justice for anybody.

Just another very trusting person (4, Insightful)

LordKaT (619540) | about a year ago | (#45059303)

The basic problem with this article - and the authors previous articles - is that they assume that law enforcement, judges, and government are morally just entities who will always attempt to enforce laws based on their spirit and not their own personal ambitions.

The reason the fifth amendment exists is not to protect criminals from prosecution - as you ignorantly assume in your first article - but to protect innocent people from prosecution from crimes they didn't commit, a protection that lingers from the days of King George. An individual would be forced to admit their guilt one way or another. If they said they were innocent, and lawyers later proved them incorrect, they would be charged with two crimes. Claim guilt and you get no trial.

This system allowed two charges to be claimed against the perpetrator, who was potentially innocent of the crime but because of policing techniques and lawyers arguments could be found guilty ... and I've yet to see anyone step up and proclaim that policing techniques, no matter how modern, are perfect.

The ability to choose not to speak up for yourself means police are forced to perform their duties as efficiently and honestly (although that's not always the case) as possible. It's also a good opportunity for your lawyer to talk strategy with you and see what the potential outcomes are of an investigation and trial.

Really, all this proves is that samzenpus is a naive little child living in a much larger world where he believes the big government is a protective father, and not an entity of politicians, judges, and LEOs. It's a bad trait of smart people who should know better than this.

Can we please... (4, Insightful)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | about a year ago | (#45059313)

Can we please stop giving air to this obnoxious blowhard who's openly and actively campaigning for a full-on totalitarian police state?

I mean, really. It's one thing to offer up a controversial opinion every now and again to foster click-throughs, but the level of obscene absurdity this Haselton putz has taken it to is out of hand.

If /. is really dedicated to giving voice to somebody who thinks KGB- and Stasi-style policing are a good idea especially at a time when the NSA is running amok and our police have already been militarized, that'll be the straw that finally pushes me away.

Yes, Nazis and Nazi-wannabes like Haselton have the right to freedom of expression, even when they're advocating for those rights to be denied everybody else. But I'll not help magnify their voices. And if /. will, I'll exercise my freedom of association and stop associating with /.

Cheers,

b&

Re:Can we please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059635)

> Can we please stop giving air to this obnoxious blowhard who's openly and actively campaigning for a full-on totalitarian police state?

Or, at least, if we have to give airtime to an obnoxious blowhard who's openly and actively campaigning for a full-on totalitarian police state, can we at least give it to a blow-hard who has some sort of credentials in the field of full-on totalitarian police states? Or some credentials at all? Or some reason why his opinions would be considered "news" on slashdot?

Your first error in this apologia was... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059317)

Assuming the potential perp that he or she is competent enough to know that she or he committed a crime. They are not. They can admit to facts, but only when considered with settled law, as interpreted in their jurisdiction then a judgement made as to the guilt beyond a reasonable doubt can it be concluded that they in fact, broke the law, regardless of what they think.

Having them speculate by asking if they did a crime just prejudices them and is not much different from using lie detectors or a mouthful of dry rice in ancient times.

Hearsay. (4, Informative)

D'Arque Bishop (84624) | about a year ago | (#45059327)

IMHO, the most important reason is the one Professor Duane gave regarding what weight the statements have in court. Anything you say can and will be used against you, but nothing you say can be used for you. Anything you say in your defense would be ruled as hearsay and as such inadmissable.

So, on a personal level, at the very best nothing happens to you and at the very worst you admit to a crime (and maybe not even the one you're being questioned about!) and get hauled off to jail. On a societal level, at the very best you MIGHT give some information that is useful but at the very worst (and probably more likely) an innocent individual faces charges for a crime he didn't commit.

That's why I would never agree to police questioning without an attorney.

Your analysis is full of naivety (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059341)

Yes, never speak to the police means never speak to the police. Answer the questions you are legally obligated to answer (Name and address in most jurisdictions). THAT IS ALL.

Yes, that means never act as a witness to anything. See a five year old getting raped in the middle of the street? I didn't see anything. Neighbors dealing crack? Not my business. Hank Williams said it best MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

Yes, that means never report a crime. Your house got broken into? What the hell are the cops going to do about it anyways.

Think you are going to talk your way out of a citation? Don't bother. It's probably not going to work anyways. Show up to court and make your argument there.

Never argue your innocence, never lie, never make any statement.

If for any reason you are compelled to break any of these rules don't do it personally, let your lawyer speak on your behalf.

This is the code that I live by. I have zero faith, trust, sense of security, or anything else from the police. They are basically agents of a fascist state and exist solely to find a reason to incarcerate you. They are never your friend. They are never your ally. Even if you are the victim of a horrible crime, to them you are just some schmuck. They would be just as happy to send you to jail the next day if they could.

Why is this here? (1, Redundant)

foobar bazbot (3352433) | about a year ago | (#45059343)

Perhaps I'm being silly, but I'd have thought people who wanted to engage in an ongoing discussion of the Fifth Amendment with Bennet Haselton could be reading, and responding to, Bennet Haselton's blog. Why is it on /.?

Anyway, I found this bit amusing:

But it means that if this is the primary argument in favor of the Fifth Amendment, then what the people making this argument are really saying, is that the whole system is broken.

Because it would really be odd if a whole bunch of people, from the Founders who wrote the amendment to OWS, were saying "the whole system is broken"? Even though they say/said that in far more direct ways all the time?

Why risk it? (3, Insightful)

MiKM (752717) | about a year ago | (#45059355)

His advice ignores the benefits of leniency if you're guilty and you're almost positive you'll be caught anyway. For most of this discussion I've been focusing on the merits of talking to the police if you're innocent. But Officer Bruch also says that if people in the interrogation room answer questions and cooperate, then even if they're ultimately convicted, the police do testify to the judge that you were cooperative, and the judge can take that into account and reduce your prison sentence. That is at least theoretically another legitimate reason to violate Professor Duane's "Don't Talk To Cops" rule, if you're 99% sure that the police will find enough evidence to convict you anyway, you can hope for leniency by cooperating.

Would it not be more beneficial for your attorney to arrange some plea deal? As somebody who is not an expert on criminal law, I would keep my mouth shut until I talked to my attorney. I'd let the expert on criminal justice decide if it was worth confessing instead of hoping for the best.

Doesn't matter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059367)

The argument and response are irrevelant. A mental exercise at best.

What matters are facts. And the fact is cops are not your friends, they are not on your side, they are not there to help.
They talk about you like the enemy. They treat you like the enemy.

This has been proven time and time again in so many cases. People. Innocent people. Get pulled into the legal machinery of this country and get ground up and the leading edge of that machinery is the police..

Stay the fuck away from it if you can help it at all. If you value your life, your future, your money, your career. Everything.
Just stay the fuck away from the police. Never deal with them without a lawyer right beside you if you can at all help it.

Doing anything else is fucking stupid.

He is at odd with all the lawyers I know (5, Insightful)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about a year ago | (#45059375)

From the seasoned defense attorney I know socially, to my son the new lawyer, his fiancée the newer lawyer, family friend the even newer lawyer, to all of the lawyers I have ever hired, they all say "Don't talk to the cops!" They even have a checklist for when the cops talk to you:
1. "I don't want to talk to you."
2. "Am I free to go?"
3. "I want a lawyer."

Regards the stupid cops (4, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | about a year ago | (#45059379)

Yes, cops are that stupid and corrupt. The reason that you don't talk to cops is BECAUSE they are stupid and corrupt and even if they aren't one, they can still be the other. Police exams don't pass people that are too smart (http://abcnews.go.com/US/court-oks-barring-high-iqs-cops/story?id=95836) to begin with so you're most likely (99% of the time) dealing with someone of average IQ or LESS than average IQ, someone who didn't score perfectly on an exam about the rights of the people they serve.

Due to issues with my ex I've been "talking" to cops a lot. Yes, they will take everything you say and distort it through their own lens. If you are a male trying to get justice from a female; the female starts crying or cries abuse and you're pretty much screwed, admitting either before or after that you 'yelled' at someone or stood your ground or bat off a physical attack pretty much screws you over. The fact that she wrestled a child from your arms doesn't even go in the report because they weren't there to see it (unless you have bruises or cuts). I have learned to say the minimal amount of data and facts I need to get an effective police report, write things down in your own words, then go straight to court with it, the police won't help you.

The reason you don't talk to cops is because there is a chance that you will get screwed over and not a chance that anything you say will be vindicating you. The cops don't HAVE to say anything to help you in court and CANNOT say anything that will help you. Just as your defense has the right to direct witnesses, so does the offense - ever heard "Objection, narrative", "Objection, guiding the witness" - that's what the prosecution will yell if you ask the cop on the stand to tell you what you said, they might just yell objection just to interrupt the story and disconnect the witness and the jury from the story. The prosecution's own re-election is based on CONVICTION rates, not "innocence" rates, they will likewise coach the witness pre-trial not to say certain things.

Yes, if you're innocent you'll be let go most of the time REGARDLESS of whether you talk. They can't keep you if you're not talking, not talking does not imply that you're not innocent, it only implies that your IQ is higher than that of the cops. The best thing you can do is tough it out until you get to a judge and even then all you CAN do is present and attack evidence.

If you're guilty and you know it you should wait for a plea bargain, 90% of the cases don't even go to trial these days. If they don't have enough evidence, the case will be dropped and you're off free, if there is enough evidence, your case will be up for a plea bargain before going to trial. This is true even for speeding tickets, the AG will typically offer you a 'disobey traffic device', which is typically a low fine. Going to the judge and letting the cops tell you how cooperative you were is a crapshoot, if the judge is in a bad mood or it's a jury of your peers, it won't matter all that much.

Don't hire this guy as your lawyer (2, Insightful)

sasquatch989 (2663479) | about a year ago | (#45059397)

The author of this hasnt thought out the position very well. He forgets 2 crucial facts. 1. The advice is to never talk to the cops WITHOUT A LAWYER. It's not the talking to the cops part that has Prof Duane suggests, it's talking to the cops without legal representation, esp'y bc the police are always looking for probable cause for everything all the time, and secondly b/c the police always have defacto legal representation 2. Cops are assholes. Give them an inch and they shove the whole baton in your ass. But prosecutors are a whole different breed of asshole. The cop is at the end of the day nothing more than an on-the-scene stenographer. It's the prosecutor that uses the statements against you. It;s the AG that builds a case when there isnt one there. It;s the government welfare-queen lawyer that uses their track record to (you going to jail) to pad their resume (get elected to the next office to dick you over). Btw, if you are poor it;s his under-achieving college roommate that gets to defend you for free. hedge your bets in your favor....never talk to the cops. Its a rule so important it gets it's own Commandment (9) AND it's own Amendment (5).

Re:Don't hire this guy as your lawyer (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#45059623)

You missed out '- gets to defend you for free in the ten minutes before his next case.' Public defense attorneys are mostly there to urge you to either plead guilty or accept any deal the police offer, and are usually kept deliberately over-worked and under-funded. If they were allowed to actually be good at their jobs, they would make their bosses look bad.

I thought the point was pretty clear. (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | about a year ago | (#45059403)

Don't talk to the police if you believe yourself to be the target of an investigation because it is your right and you're a rank amateur in the law, police and DA's are not. If it progresses past a certain point of trying to get you to catch yourself in a lie, hire a lawyer/PD.

Summary way too long (0)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#45059405)

And it's a bunch of crap, but it's getting page hits. Congratulations to all involved.

Now, let's make it simple, shall we?

Nobody, government or not, has any right to compel or prohibit speech, period, end of story.

There, done, end of thread.

Wasn't that easy?

Thousands of laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059409)

Can you honestly say that you are completely aware of all the laws currently on the books, and that you are capable of avoiding, even accidentally, of admitting to something that might seem completely harmless and innocent to you, but in fact happens to be contrary to some vague law, somewhere?

When some people claim that each and every one of commits "three felonies a day"-- are you even fully aware of what those felonies might be, how many felonies there are the legal code in general, or how many endless pages are added every single year?

Unless you can afford to have a world-class legal team by your side at every single encounter with an officer or bureaucrat, there may very well be a good reason never to speak to any of them- even if "society" might benefit from either your own innocent exoneration or information to convict the guilty. You never know when you could be incriminating yourself, because "legal" and "just" have long parted ways.

chop chop chop (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059411)

Excellent logic chopping there, champ.

About talking to cops and the fifth ammendment (5, Insightful)

vivaoporto (1064484) | about a year ago | (#45059419)

About talking to cops and the fifth ammendment, it is a good thing you have there in America, the right to remain silent is one of the few thin lines that separates your country from situations like this [aljazeera.com]

Yet "police throughout [Iraq] continued to use abusive and coerced confessions as methods of investigations," the State Department cites in its latest report, adding, "Credible accounts of abuse and torture during arrest and investigation, in pretrial detention, and after conviction, particularly by police and army were common." The State Department says former prisoners, detainees and human rights groups detail methods including "stress positions, beatings, broken fingers, electric shocks, suffocation, burning, removal of fingernails, suspension from the ceiling, overextending the spine, beatings on the soles of the feet with plastic and metal rods, forcing victims to drink large quantities of water then preventing urination, sexual assault, denial of medical treatment, and death threats."

Confessions have long been a deliberate element in Iraqi justice, both before and after Saddam's rule. The justice system, based largely on Islamic and tribal tradition, has always placed the importance of confessions above other types of considered evidence. Here, it's called the Master of the Evidence, similar to the Latin phrase Confession est regina probationum, or "Confession is the queen of proofs," which justified the use of forced confessions during the Middle Ages.

Denying the state the incentive of extracting a confession "by any means necessary" is one of the best gifts your founding fathers left for you. Removing that safeguard from your justice system will certainly be detrimental. You may think it will never be used against the innocent but one should never forget the famous quotation by H. L. Mencken:

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

Cops assume guilt (5, Insightful)

boristdog (133725) | about a year ago | (#45059475)

Back when I worked IT for a state office I had to report all missing property (usually computer equipment/parts) to the cops. Why? I wondered about it until the first couple times I did it, then I knew why: The cops ALWAYS assume whoever reports the crime was the one who committed the crime.

Every time I reported something missing I would get pulled into an empty room and literally given the third degree, light in the face and everything. I would be quizzed about my debts, my expenses, my family problems, my drinking/gambling habits, etc. I wold be left in the room alone for 30-40 minutes at a time while I was watched from outside. Sometimes several cops (possibly "detectives") would question me rapid-fire at the same time. It was like they learned to be cops from a TV show.

So why was I picked to report? Because I was the whitest, most innocent-looking person in the IT department. My boss was black, most of my co-workers were also black, asian or hispanic, some were of middle-eastern or persian descent. I'm sure the cops (all middle-aged white guys) went far easier on me than they would have on my co-workers. But they still tried like hell to pin every crime I reported on me.

So even as a super-clean, upstanding-citizen-type white guy I learned: DO NOT TALK TO COPS.

8th sign of the apocolypse (5, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | about a year ago | (#45059497)

Wishing for the days of Jon Katz submissions.

Personal Soapbox? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059517)

His first article on why you shouldn't have 5th amendment rights was stupid. His second article on why 5th amendment rights should apply to 3rd parties showed how ignorant he was of the actual laws he was trying to apply. This article is just trying to tow his personal belief in the face of opinions and facts presented against him, and showing that he doesn't understand how the video he was direct to applies, how the legal system works and may be out of touch with reality as well.

Don't say anything to cops (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059519)

Wow that's a mindless read.

"The video is answering a different question from the one I asked."
It's not an answer to you about anything.

"2. The argument about the danger of talking to cops is based on a sampling error. "
No, he explains all the scenarios and how it fails to help and can be used to convict you, even if your innocent.

"3. His advice ignores the benefits of leniency if you're guilty and you're almost positive you'll be caught anyway."
No, he says, save it for court and explains in great detail why that's the correct place. Leniency is not for the cops its for the courts.

"4. Professor Duane's argument is about talking to the cops; I'm asking about the merits of the Fifth Amendment as it applies in a courtroom as well."
Make it into a coherent argument then.

"5. Finally, are the police really that corrupt and/or stupid? "
You select quotes out of context and contrast those selected quotes. Go away you tiresome troll.

Talking to the police outcomes (2)

jimbolauski (882977) | about a year ago | (#45059521)

The risk for an innocent person talking to police if very high, an innocent person only gains not having to retain a lawyer IF the police find their statement creditable. The cost to society does not factor into this decision as the 5th amendment is about personal freedoms and personal protection. What the 5th amendment protects against is silence being used against you in a trial, "he refused to answer questions so that must mean he is guilty mentality". Situations where the innocent person may not recall events perfectly and is now forced to testify would become damming evidence of their guilt. That is what the 5th amendment protects against, it protects innocent people from an imperfect system. The downside is that guilty people can exploit that, but I value the rights of the innocent over the Greater Good of society.

Wrong assumptions (1)

bsane (148894) | about a year ago | (#45059531)

I think you missed the whole point. If they're interrogating you they 'know' you're guilty and will do whatever it takes to convict you.

In other words, if you're arrested, suppose the cops really are so dumb and/or evil that they would quote your "I never liked the guy" out of context to try and get you convicted.

They're not dumb or (in their minds) evil. They 100% convinced that you're guilty of the crime and want you convicted. The DA has the same motivation, if he thought they were innocent you wouldn't be prosecuted.

In The Legal System... (1)

zenlessyank (748553) | about a year ago | (#45059533)

The more you say, the longer you stay.

Corruption (3, Interesting)

twmcneil (942300) | about a year ago | (#45059539)

Do you still trust those same police officers to handle the other aspects of your case fairly?

Nope.

To make sure any exculpatory evidence is brought to light?

Nope.

To interrogate other witnesses without leading them towards a pre-set conclusion?

And... No.

I have been a juror on criminal trials and I am always surprised at how hard it is to tell the difference between the cops and the criminals.

Posting trolls as articles now, Slashdot? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059561)

I have rarely seen such deliberate boneheadedness in the comments, so why is that promoted into an article? At least down here it can be modded appropriately.

Are you really this naive? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#45059579)

You are an adult right?
You really believe this crap?

You think no innocent person was ever charged and had to get a lawyer?

I am about the whitest guy ever, but this level of naivety is unbelievable in an adult.

Never talk to the cops, yes even if you are not the guilty party. They will pin something on you, they want to get arrests not the right people. It is a numbers game, they need arrests not convictions. The DA needs convictions and if the cops arrested you he will try to get one.

I slightly disagree with "Never talk to police" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45059587)

If you're pulled over for a fairly routine traffic stop, it would be obnoxiously suspicious to refuse to speak to them just to make some point. Be friendly, don't bs or raise tensions, and you should be okay. If they do detain you, then just do the whole "Am I free to go" meme, then afterwords silence.

OK, but what did he mean? (1)

Java Pimp (98454) | about a year ago | (#45059595)

In response to your question about the "Don't Talk to Cops" video: OK, but what did he mean?

He means, guilty or not, if you are under suspicion of a crime, the cops are NOT looking for evidence to exonerate you. They are looking for anything and everything that can be used to prove your guilt. Including twisting your words in such a way to make you sound as if you were lying or trying to hide something.

Answers (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#45059597)

1) You ignore the costs to society of coerced confessions.

2) Some fraction of those who speak to cops suffer. The amount they suffer is quite high, so even if that is a small fraction, speaking to cops is still a high risk activity. There is little to be gained from speaking with cops, so the cost benefit analysis does not work out in favor of speaking with cops.

You have a point here, that the numbers we have don't let us do the actual math. But by estimation, I think it's a firm no.

3) Leniancy is a lie cops tell you to get you to confess.

4) That situation is indeed possible in a coutroom.

5) Yes. And so are the judges, attorneys, and members of the jury.

Man, you better take some history lessons (0)

stanlyb (1839382) | about a year ago | (#45059639)

And then give me only one, i repeat, only ONE example of "goooood" government.
......
Still waiting....anyway, another flaw in your "thinking" process: society N.E. sum of individuals. Man, for real, take some math courses too, please.
Another flaw: "crime"....You do know that kissing your wife at public space is a crime...in China? Oh, sorry, i forgot, you dont have wife, and you dont kiss her at all.
Just for the record, there are only limit number of statutes, and limit number of amendments. i would say less than 100 in total. Not 10 000 rules, conditions, etc. And no, all these 10k "things" are just that, rules, not laws, in any meaning of the word. So breaking any of these "rules" is not a crime. Sorry man, take some other courses too.....actually, why don't you just go to preschool and start from the beginning?

He covers most of this in his talk (1)

whois (27479) | about a year ago | (#45059651)

And I think I could summarize it by finishing the sentence he was going for:

"Don't talk to the police... without a lawyer."

First, if you're brought in for interrogation they have already "arrested" you. I.e., put you in handcuffs in the back of the car, no you aren't free to go, that sort of thing. The police officer says he's let a couple of people go who he knew were innocent after their interrogation. You don't describe the circumstances so we'll never know if he found out they were innocent after talking with them and their lawyer, or if they just talked. Even if the person just talked to the cop without a lawyer present and they decided to let him go, that's taking a big chance considering you don't know if you'll get the cop with the heart of gold going into it.

The cop is trained to talk like a good guy because they want to coerce a confession out of criminals. Even with that in mind, there are times when things don't add up in the cop mind and they decide the person is guilty. I've been in a couple of real far-fetched situations and tried to explain to the cop what was happening (things like, my mom buying a car one day so I'm driving a car with no tags. She hasn't yet signed the title. I'm in a state where she bought the car, she lives in a different state and I live in a third state. She bought it used from someone out of a parking lot so I'm trying to explain all this while praying the guy didn't just steal the car and sell it to my mom..)

So yeah, luckily they didn't take me down to the station. They didn't handcuff me. If they had handcuffed me I would've stopped talking then and asked for a lawyer because having watched the video I know, from what the cop even said, you aren't talking your way out of handcuffs. They are taking you to jail.

As far as evidence entered into the courtroom, I think you'll find that each side is allowed to present evidence however they see fit and the cops/DA will spin it towards you being guilty. That's IF your case goes to trial because the DA is going to lean hard on you to take a plea bargain (saves money for them).

Here's the situation (happened to my friend):

My friend and a buddy are hanging out after going to the shooting range together. Later that night drunken argument of some kind happens, guy pulls friends gun on him (unloaded apparently) and guy leaves the apartment with my friends gun. He throws that gun in the bushes. My friend locks up the buddies gun and figures the dude will sober up and come by the next day to get his gun.

Buddy calls the cops. They show up at 3:00am, arrest friend, confiscate gun. They don't believe the story (I'm not even sure I believe the story but whatever.. it's a story)

The buddy told the cop that my friend pointed the buddies gun at him, so he grabbed the other gun and fled. At the grand jury, the buddy decides the story isn't suspicious enough so he alters his testimony to say the friend broke into his car.

That right there should be a lawyer's paradise. They should have had enough evidence to show the buddy is an unreliable witness and dismiss the whole thing, but the DA goes to my friend who's still in jail and says this: It's your first felony, we'll get you probation only if you plea bargain now (oh, plus fines and this all being on his record and things..) the caveat being if he fights it then the plea goes away and they'll push for 5-20 years in prison. Additionally he doesn't qualify for appointed representation because his salary (which was lost due to him being in jail) is too high.

So what would you do in that situation? Go to prison on principal because you're innocent and your buddy is a poor liar, but somehow they made the case stick? Do you take that chance or accept the plea bargain?

I really suggest you retain a lawyer or pursue law if you think you're onto something new and exciting. The truth of the matter is that the 5th amendment is there to protect anyone who may be innocent and you can't know what circumstances they would need to use those rights without careful study of the law (lawyers can research and find example cases for you for a fee if you wish)

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