Resolution of the Philadelphia Bar Association
Regarding Taping of Interrogations
WHEREAS, the Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment issued a report in April 2002; contained in that report was a recommendation that all interrogations of homicide suspects, in custody or in detention status be recorded or video recorded entirely;
WHEREAS, the legislature of Illinois thereafter enacted legislation to the same effect;
WHEREAS, on July 17, 2003, the Governor of Illinois signed into law legislation that required all police forces to record by video or audiotape, all interrogations of anyone in custody in a police station or place of detention. Failure to do so would render any resulting confession inadmissible in evidence, with certain enumerated exception;
WHEREAS, the Supreme Courts of Alaska and Minnesota have issued supervisory orders requiring similar procedures;
WHEREAS, as numerous other law enforcement and judicial bodies have voluntarily adopted similar procedures including the Federal District Court for South Dakota, having jurisdiction over crimes on Indian reservations in the state;
WHEREAS, the American Bar Association on February 10, 2004, passed a resolution urging all law enforcement agencies to video tape entirely all custodial interrogations;
WHEREAS, The Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984 (UK legislation), requires police officers in England and Wales to audio record entirely, interrogations in police stations of all suspects of indictable offenses;
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Legal Intelligencer advocated that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopt a supervisory rule similar to Alaska and Minnesota in an editorial on October 13, 2003;
WHEREAS, allegations of unlawful tactics during interrogation can be resolved by the jury viewing the videotape or hearing the audiotape, thus dispensing with lengthy interrogations of police officers;
WHEREAS, such procedure regarding homicide interrogations will benefit law enforcement officers by reducing the likelihood of bogus allegations of abuse;
WHEREAS, such a procedure will protect suspects from unlawful tactics;
WHEREAS, this procedure recognizes that good interrogation techniques are valid law enforcement tools, and good interrogators should be encouraged and trained in sophisticated techniques.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association should petition the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to create a committee to study the issuance of a supervisory rule to require:
1. That all police forces in Pennsylvania videotape or audiotape entirely all interrogations of homicide suspects in custody in a police station or other place of detention;
2. That failure to do so will render any resulting confession or admission inadmissible in court, except upon the showing of the following circumstances:
(a) recording was not feasible; or
(b) the accused made statements during routine processing following arrest; or
(c) there is a good faith showing that operational mishaps such as equipment failure, recording over, poor quality, or loss of recording product, were not purposeful and were not intended to thwart the process.
3. That recordings of false exculpatory statements are admissible pursuant to the Rules of Evidence as well as confessions.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Committee should evaluate and recommend all procedural changes necessary to implement this Rule.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: MAY 27, 2004