Thursday, September 27, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh, Steven Avery, and their accusers

In the mid-1980s, Steven Avery was charged with several crimes after Penny Beerntsen was found raped and beaten.  Avery had more than a dozen alibi witnesses and a store receipt showing he was nowhere near the scene of the crime, yet he was convicted.  Why?  The accuser pointed the finger at him and said she was sure it was him.  “I remember his face very clearly. It’s like a photograph in my memory,” she testified.  (See chapter one, here.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Bubble Reputations


Mark Twain wrote that if you “give a man a reputation as an early riser, he can sleep til noon.”

These types of bubble reputations are how Christopher Hitchens picked his targets, including Mother Teresa and Princess Diana.  Well, there are two other bubble reputations that need to be pricked, as Hitchens would say. Those reputations belong to basketball star LeBron James and women's tennis great Serena Williams.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Anatomy of a False Confession: The Interrogation and Conviction of Brendan Dassey

My new book on the Brendan Dassey interrogation and conviction is available for pre-order, here.  It will be published by Rowman & Littlefield on November 8th.  In the meantime, read the "spotlight" feature about the book in Publishers Weekly, and subscribe to The Legal Watchdog or keep up with Knightly on Twitter for book reviews as they roll in before publication.  One of the world's foremost experts on police interrogations and false confessions has already weighed in on the book:

"Michael Cicchini has written a wonderfully descriptive and insightful book, the definitive account of the interrogations of Brendan Dassey and his coerced, contaminated and (almost certainly) false confessions. Cicchini masterfully describes the tricks of the interrogation trade, how police investigators have adapted to the theoretical Miranda protections and turned them to their advantage, and, more importantly, how and why police interrogation strategies . . . can and sometimes do lead to false confessions from the innocent. Anyone who watched the Netflix series Making a Murdererwith rapt fascination will want to read this book."

— Richard A. Leo, author, Police Interrogation and American Justice; Professor of Law and Psychology, University of San Francisco