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The Source and Cause of the Grievance Case: from the Wrong Scientific Evidence to the Misleading Police Interrogation

On June 22nd, 2017, the Source and Cause of the Grievance Case: from the Wrong Scientific Evidence to the Misleading Police Interrogation seminar was jointly organized by Research Center for Criminal Justice of Renmin University of China and Centre for Common Law, Renmin University of China. Mr. Ira Belkin, the executive director of the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at New York University, Dr. Andy Griffiths, an expert of investigation and interrogation and a former senior investigating officer at Sussex, UK, Dr. Itiel Dror, the senior cognitive neuroscience researcher at University College London, Professor He Jiahong, Professor Shi Yanan, Professor Liu Jihua and Professor Wei Xiaona attended the seminar. More than 60 teachers, students and judicial practitioners participated in the seminar. Professor Wei Xiaona chaired the seminar.

Professor He Jiahong welcomed three foreign experts on behalf of Renmin Law School, and introduced the study of criminal justice of Renmin Law School to the participants. Since 2005, Professor He Jiahong had established a special research center focusing on the study of criminal cases to promote the reform of criminal misjudgment system. For correcting miscarriage of justice, China underwent such a change as previous self-examination to current third-party review. The reform drew on the British independent agency review. Professors of Renmin made efforts to the reform.

Director Ira Belkin had visited and cooperated with Renmin several times. The U.S.-Asia Law Institute at NYU took miscarriage of justice as a key research field and committed to strengthening the exchanges of the U.S. and Asian countries. He introduced that since 1989, the U.S. had applied DNA evidence to criminal investigation, proving more than 300 miscarriage of justice cases. The U.S. judicial community then realized that even a perfect procedural system cannot completely avoid miscarriage of justice. It was found that false confession was the main cause of miscarriages of justice. False confession would not only make the innocent suspect plead guilty, but also mislead the appraisers, and thus lead to miscarriage of justice.

Dr. Andy Griffiths, focusing on investigative interview, introduced that British investigative inquiry changed from confession to specialization. 30 years ago, the police usually pretended to have more evidence, and persuaded suspects claiming the statement was most beneficial to them, which resulted in many false confessions. In 1980s, British carried out first criminal judicial reform and enacted the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, making the rights of suspects clear, establishing forensic identification rules, etc. However, due to the lack of investigation personnel training, the effect was not ideal. Therefore in 1992, the national inquiry training project was launched. A week-long training course was required for criminal police. The PEACE interview model was taught in the training, including the following stages: 1) planning and preparation; 2) engage and explain; 3) account, clarification, challenge; 4) closure; 5) evaluation. PEACE interview was a basic skill. At the end of the speech, Professor Griffiths pointed out that investigative interview was crucial for judicial justice, and judicial injustice affected the credibility of the public. We needed to greatly improve the professionalism of investigation, and attached importance to training and cultural tradition.

Dr. Itiel Dror was an expert in psychology. He analyzed how to improve police investigation and identification to achieve judicial justice from the cognitive perspective. A series of judicial procedures such as police inquiry and court trial were related to peoples ideas and understandings, that was to say, were related to the human brain, and to some extent, it was difficult to avoid mistakes. Therefore, we needed to study the mental activities of judges, police officers and other personnel involved in the case, and trained them to reduce the influence of subjective factors on the final judgment. He conducted some tests, proving that different people had different views on the same objective fact and thus came to different results. The idea was often affected by various factors. Taking the Pepsi paradox as an example, Coca-Cola was the absolute bestseller in the U.S. and the rest of the world. While Pepsi was the preferred cola in blind taste tests, when the research subjects tasted colas with visible labels, knowing which brown liquid was which, almost all of them suddenly preferred Coca-Cola. They were convinced that the taste of Coca-Cola was far superior to Pepsi. In criminal cases, judicial personnel also would be affected by personal prejudice when they identified criminal suspects.

In the discussion, other participants actively exchanged views with three foreign experts.

(Editor: CHEN Pei)

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