After a California housekeeper was assaulted, stabbed, and burned to death last year, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrested a 27-year-old clerical worker and aspiring musician, says the Los Angeles Times. A judge last month threw out the case, raising concerns about detectives’ conduct during a lengthy interrogation. The judge said they might have violated the suspect’s Miranda rights and bullied him into making incriminating statements that he later recanted. The judge also cast a skeptical eye on detectives’ decision to record only part of the interrogation.
The decision prompted Sheriff Lee Baca to launch a review of detectives’ in-custody interrogations. A blue-ribbon panel examining reform of the state’s criminal justice system has urged the legislature to require electronic recording of all jailhouse interrogations. The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice – which included Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Los Angeles police chief William Bratton – recommended that if a law enforcement officer fails to make an audiotape, the law should require that criminal juries be instructed to view any confessions with caution.