The State Bar of Michigan has appointed a Custodial Interrogation Recording Task Force. The group consisting of State Bar members in the criminal defense, prosecution, judicial and law enforcement communities is charged with developing and promoting legislative, court rule, and funding changes that advance the use of audio and video electronic recording of custodial interrogations.
The need for the task force arises from concerns about the wrongful convictions of innocent people, and the amount of time spent at trial and on appeal litigating who said and did what during an interrogation. "As an agency dedicated to the continual improvement of the justice system, the State Bar is in the best position to coordinate people and agencies who will benefit from the recording of custodial interrogations," said State Bar President Thomas W. Cranmer. "The task force will recommend an effective process that is fair to all involved."
The 16-member task force is led by co-chairs Nancy Diehl of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and Valerie Newman of the State Appellate Defender’s Office. Diehl, who is the immediate past president of the State Bar, observed that "now is the time to move forward because technology is available to appropriately video record interrogations. The recorded statement is the best record of what took place and will assist in protecting the innocent and convicting the guilty. However, most importantly, resources must be provided to make recording a reality."
Co-chair Valerie Newman noted that the recent exoneration of Eddie Joe Lloyd, who confessed to the rape and murder of a young girl when he had no involvement with the crime, illustrates the point that people who are innocent can and are wrongfully convicted based on a confession. "The recording of custodial interrogations will result in a criminal justice system that is more reliable and just," she added. Other members of the task force are:
- Thomas P. Casselman; Casselman and Henderson PC
- Chief William Dwyer; Farmington Hills Police Department
- Donald L. Johnson; Legal Aid and Defender Association, Inc.
- Hon. Timothy M. Kenny; 3rd Circuit Court
- Martin P. Krohner; co-chair, SBM Criminal Jurisprudence & Practice Committee
- Donna McKneelen; staff attorney, Innocence Project, Cooley Law School
- Chief Ervin L. Portis; president, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police
- Jill Leslie Price; Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan
- Hon. Mark A. Randon; 36th District Court
- Thomas M. Robertson; executive director, Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council
- James Samuels; Samuels Law Office
- James B. Schlaff; president, Wayne County Criminal Defense Attorneys Association
- Ralph C. Simpson; chair, SMB Criminal Law Section
- Christopher P. Yates; Wiley, Chamberlain, Yates