One means to reduce the problem of jurors incorrectly assuming that people would not falsely confess to serious crimes would be to permit expert witnesses to explain the studies on the this topic. This would be similar to the rulings permitting experts to testify that the failure to complain of a rape is not unusual. In People v Taylor and Banks (75 NY2d 277 ) experts have been permitted to testify about how rape trauma syndrome is a recently recognized psychological disorder that can cause some rape victims to appear calm and relaxed after their attacks and lead them to delay reporting their rapes. The Court explained that its ruling was intended as a legal ounterweight to jurors who have misinterpreted such symptoms as evidence that the victim consented to sexual intercourse.
Why is there perceived less of a need to inform jurors of the psychological aspects of interrogation techniques that have been shown to lead to a false confessions?
The Fourth Department apparently sees juror misconceptions over silence about rape as different than juor miscopceptions about false confessions. In People v Bean (2009 NY Slip Op 06947 [4th Dept 102/09]) the defendant contended that the court erred in precluding the testimony of his expert witness who, according to defendant, would have provided general testimony concerning police interrogation techniques and false confessions. Rejectiong this argument, the Fourth Department held that
The court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the expert's testimony would not be relevant in view of the facts of this case (see generally People v Young, 7 NY3d 40, 44-45; People v Lee, 96 NY2d 157, 162).
The Court did not state whether under other circumstances it would find an abuse of discretion in excluding this testimony.