Harvard University Case of Mi

Case of Michael Crowe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0tdOWZK4AA – Michael Crowe Confession Footage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGp1LVciP2c – Michael Crowe Case Part 1 of 3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USxjvOt9kBI – Michael Crowe Case Part 3 of 3

  • Read through the case and watch the video excerpts. Respond to the following:

What went wrong? 

  • Based on the attached police policy and what you read, should the police have more restrictions on juvenile interrogations?

What could be done to avoid what happened with Michael Crowe?

  • SAMPLE POLICE POLICY

All juveniles taken into custody shall be advised of the nature of the crime in which they are suspected. Prior to any in-custody interview, all juveniles shall be advised of their Miranda Rights in Juvenile Miranda format and in accordance with the Scales decision. The child’s physical condition, age, intelligence, educational level, prior experience with the juvenile justice system, and ability to comprehend the meaning and effect of statements should be carefully evaluated in each case.

The officer/investigator shall document the interview in a corresponding CAPRS statement.

Officers and investigators may allow a parent/legal guardian to be present during an interview of their child, if the presence of the parent/legal guardian is not deemed to be coercive or inhibiting.

  • If the juvenile refuses to be interviewed, investigators may re-approach at another time. If the juvenile requests an attorney, all questioning and contact must cease. A juvenile who has consulted with or retained an attorney (i.e. public defender at JDC), cannot be contacted without approval of that attorney.

first discussion:

Michael Crowe’s case had a string of things that went wrong in the interrogation process. after viewing the sad interrogation videos, I noticed that detective Chris McDonough and his partner used the Reid interrogation technique designed to bring out confessions from Michael, Josh, and Aaron. First, Michael experienced psychological torture through coerced interviews which lasted for three days where the detectives used lies to lure him into confessing to a murder that he did not commit. The detectives also conducted a sustained attack on Michael’s memory where he was accused of selective memory, which made him think that he murdered his sister. The other wrong that I noticed was that the detectives were so convinced that Stephanie Crowe’s murderer lived in the house and stressed getting a confession out of Michael together with his friends as their accomplices. They failed to focus on Richard Tuite, whose evidence indicated Stephanie’s were on his sweater and that he was in the area around Michael’s home on the evening of the murder. Bloodstains were later found to be guilty of the murder. Finally, the detectives used a computer stress analyzer that proved unreliable in coercing Michael to kill his sister.

There should be more restrictions on juvenile interrogations to prevent the possibility of false confessions due to confrontational coercions, which was experienced in Michael’s case. In the videos, Michael was denied the presence of their parents or an attorney who would have guided Michael ad made him more comfortable in the interrogation process. Instead, they lied to Michael’s parents that he was being held at the Polisky Children Center when they interrogated him. Michael was not advised of his Miranda rights, which shows that more restrictions need to be put in place. Were it not for the recorded video that showed how the detectives coerced Michael into a false confession; they could have probably denied a release of Michael from juvenile prison. The restrictions should also involve penalties for detectives who go against the law to coerce suspects into falsifying their confessions.

To prevent this ordeal from happening to any other juvenile suspect, the young rights should be respected, and the juvenile suspects are informed of their Miranda rights. Parents, guardians, or an attorney should be resent for counsel. Detectives should undergo regular drills to ensure that proper investigation of possible evidence is adequate not to throw away proofs like Richard Tuite’s blood-stained sweater. Abolishment of coercive interrogation towards juvenile suspects will go a long way in ensuring no false confessions. Finally, juvenile suspects need to be taken through their Miranda rights which will put them in a better position to answer interrogative questions and know when their rights are being violated.

second discussion:

Wow, some parts of those videos was hard for me to watch. My first thought was everything about the interview process was wrong. They lied, manipulated, coached, and corrupted that poor child. He was physically showing signs of a breakdown, anxiety, nervousness, and confusion. The detectives first went wrong by not making sure he understood his rights. At his age I don’t believe he fully understood what was happening when he fasly confused to the murder of his sister. The detectives were giving him the options of harsh juvenile prison for not admitting to the crime or help if he was to admit. I feel child could look at this and think maybe if I say I did it then they will help me or I will get to go home. A child that age does not through understand what he is supposed to do or not supposed to do in this situation. Plus having adults pushing him and telling him did things that he repeatedly told them he didn’t, must become very agitating. In our text it talks about considering factors such as the type of crime committed, the evidence, prior record, experience in the juvenile system, and other physical factors sush as age and race. (pp 197 – 198). The detectives in this situation I feel didn’t take anything into consideration other than trying to get this young man to confess. Also, I don’t understand why the parents didn’t tell the police no you cannot talk to our kids without one of us being there as well. I feel like maybe they were too upset and distraught and wasn’t obviously thinking things all the way through.

I feel there needs to be a more clear set of implications when it comes to interrogerating juveniles. I think the wording of having an attorney present is their right needs to be explained to them further. In our text it also reads about juveniles and their need for the expedited or accelerated criminal process (pp 216 – 217). I do feel there is a need for the accelerated process as a young juvenile time can be used to get them back on the right track instead of waiting around for them to be sentenced. Also juveniles having birthday and becoming of legal age has to be taken into consideration.

I feel the officers need to make sure the parents or an attorney is present. They need to take into consideration their age, what the crime is, and how the process has gone thus far with the offenders. They need to make sure the juveniles understand their rights and what they are. Also, they need to use appropriate techniques when questioning them so the confession they do obtain can be used.

third question:

The first thing that went wrong with the Michael Crowe interrogation was that the officers did not allow Michael to have his parents or a lawyer present while he was being questioned. The officers are shown telling Michael about his rights, but I do not think that Michael understood that he had the right to an attorney. In the beginning, it did not seem like Michael knew he was being questioned for the murder of his sister. Another problem with the interrogation was that the officers were trying to coerce Michael into confessing. The officers were giving Michael false information, trying to get him to confess, even after he told the officers that he did not know what happened to his sister and that he did not commit the murder. The officers lied about having evidence to the point where Michael said that he must have done it when he in fact did not commit the murder. The officers also lied to Michael, stating that his parents hated him for killing his sister, making him believe the officers were the only people who were trying to help him and look out for him.

Yes, I believe that police should have more restrictions when interrogating juveniles. I believe that juveniles should have their parents in the room with them when being interrogated or have a lawyer present. I believe that most, if not all, juveniles do not understand their Miranda rights and should have someone present who does.

As I previously stated, Michael Crowe should have had his parents or a lawyer present during questioning. Michael clearly did not waive his rights to be questioned, which means his Fifth Amendment rights were violated. The officers coerced Michael into making incriminating statements, which turned out to be inadmissible during the court case. 

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