CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ninth Circuit Opinion in Civil Case Related to False Confessions

The case, a high profile one from the San Diego area, is Crowe v. County of San Diego, and the opinion is here. The court reversed the district court's grant of partial summary judgment for the government entities and individuals involved. CrimProf Richard Leo, an expert in the case, in quoted by the court as calling one of the interrogations as “the most psychologically brutal interrogation and tortured confession that I have ever observed.”

From the beginning of the opinion: 

This civil rights case arose from the investigation and prosecution of innocent teenagers for a crime they did not commit. Michael Crowe, Aaron Houser, and Joshua Treadway were wrongfully accused of the murder of Michael’s 12-year-old sister Stephanie Crowe. After hours of grueling,psychologically abusive interrogation—during which the boys were isolated from their families and had no access to lawyers—the boys were indicted on murder charges and pre-trial proceedings commenced.

. . . 

Michael, Aaron, Joshua, and their families filed a complaint against multiple individuals and government entities who had been involved in the investigation and prosecution of the boys. The complaint alleged, amongst other claims, constitutional violations under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and defamation claims.

The San Diego Union Tribune has a story on the decision here.

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