Monthly Archives: May 2014

Always Record the (Federal) Police, Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals edition

Steve Kalar, Federal Public Defender in the Northern District of California, has important commentary attached to two cases out of the Ninth Circuit this week. First, in United States v. Preston, 2014 WL 1876269, *6 (9th Cir. May 12, 2014):

Preston’s single most important fact? The officers “began recording their interaction with Preston within ‘one or two minutes’ of approaching him.” Id. at *2, *9. Without that recording, the Court would have never known the extent of the coercion in the case – this mentally-disabled kid would have lost a swearing match with the police in an evidentiary hearing. 

   This is a second time in only a month that the recording of a confession gave the Ninth the true facts of the case – and revealed the real abuses that go on with interrogations. See blog on Ramirez-Estrada, here . 

And second, in United States v. Ramirez-Estrada, 2014 WL 1646931 (9th Cir. Apr. 25, 2014):

This is a careful, nuanced decision that relies heavily on the precise words used during the booking process. Id. at *5. How can Judge Clifton quote this exchange verbatim? “A recording of the interview, from which we can draw precise quotations, is part of the record.”Id. at *5 & n.3. 

  Would this constitutional violation have been discovered, if the record was merely a swearing match between the agents and the defendant? 


  Ramirez-Estrada illustrates the travesty of federal agents refusing to tape interviews – the only reason not to record is to hide violations like the Doyle problem in this case.