Due process/unlawful inducements
- Colorado v. Connelly , 479 U.S. 157 (1986). Official coercion is a necessary element in showing a violation of due process. In Connelly , the defendant, who was later diagnosed as mentally ill, approached a police officer and confessed to a murder. Despite testimony that his mental illness interfered with his free will, the Court found the confession was voluntary because there was no evidence of coercion by the police. The Court noted that the defendant’s mental condition would be an important consideration when police use subtle psychological methods of coercion, but rejected the idea “that a defendant’s mental condition, by itself and apart from it’s relation to official coercion, should ever dispose of the inquiry into constitutional ‘voluntariness.’”
- United States v. Lonetree , 35 M.J. 396 (C.M.A. 1992). To render an inducement unlawful under Article 31(d), “[the] inducement must be made by someone acting in a law enforcement capacity or in a position superior to the person making the confession.” A promise of confidentiality from U.S. Intelligence agent (non-police agent) did not constitute unlawful inducement; therefore, the accused’s confession was voluntary.
- United States v. Campos , 48 M.J. 203 (C.A.A.F. 1998). Five weeks after a serious car accident, while the accused was medicated and in the hospital recovering from injuries, NCIS agents questioned him about wrongful use and distribution of methamphetamine. Prior to the questioning, the accused was advised of his rights under Article 31(b) and Miranda. The court held that the actions of the NCIS agents did not rise to “government overreaching,” and that the accused’s mental state was not such as to render the confessions involuntary. The court stated that the accused’s mental state is just a factor in determining the voluntariness of a confession and is only considered if there is a governmental due process violation due to overreaching.
- United States v. Morris , 49 M.J. 227 (C.A.A.F. 1998). An investigator telling the accused during an interrogation that “[i]f you help us, we will help you,” did not amount to unlawful inducement.
- United States v. Oakley , 33 M.J. 27 (C.M.A. 1991). Senior law enforcement noncommissioned officer’s admonishments to cooperate did not overbear the suspect’s freely drawn conclusion that it was in his own best interest to cooperate.
- United States v. Murphy , 18 M.J. 220 (C.M.A. 1984). Trial counsel’s advice that cooperation with Japanese police could result in a more lenient sentence merely provided the accused information with which to make an informed, tactical judgment as to his making a statement.