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Juvenile Confession question at trial

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May 22, 2006, 08:37
Jeremy Warren
Juvenile Confession question at trial
I have a juvenile, certified as an adult, who confessed to murder. At trial, if an issue as to the confession's "voluntariness" comes up, should I call the JP magistrate as a witness?
May 23, 2006, 13:12
I had the issue come up today. The case didn't go to trial (it plead at the last minute). However, I was only going to call the detective you was there that could verity the voluntariness of the confession. My confession was oral.
May 23, 2006, 14:06
John Stride
Everyone should be videotaping juvenile (or for that matter ALL) confessions. Nothing memorializes the events better or allows a better assessment after the fact. But I realize not everyone can or does videotape.

That said, with the caveat that Sharon Pruitt may have a better answer, if the face of the confession alone will not satisfy the court (which it should because the statute virtually creates a rebuttable presumption of admissibility if the magistrate complies and finds voluntariness), the best witness would be the magistrate. The detective is not the best witness because the law has already decided that a magistrate is required to ensure voluntariness. But even the detective would be better than no witness, and may be necessary if the court isn't satisfied with the magistrate.
May 23, 2006, 14:18
Stacey L. Brownlee
I agree with John, videotape would be great, but the videotaping process for juveniles tends to make the officers shy away from even attempting it (at least in the jurisdictions I've worked in).

As was posted in answer to this question in the criminal forum, it is always the best practice to have your magistrate on standby and don't forget to put him/her on your witness list.