Main Content

Advanced Evidence Spring 2023 (4 credit)

The PEOPLE of the State of New York, Respondent, v. Howard POWELL, Appellant

37 N.Y.3d 476, Court of Appeals of New York (Nov. 18, 2021)

Our guest speaker, Lauren Gottseman, was one of the attorneys for the defense in this case. In this case the court denied the defense request to introduce an expert on the topic of false confessions. The case provides an illustration of the Frye standard in action, and also higlights that in the false confession context, it is the DEFENSE, and not the government, that is seeking to introduce the expert. (The case also involved the exclusion of a defense expert on eyewitness identifications, but I elided that text below).


You'll also see (but do not need to read) the dissent, authoted by Judge Rivera (former CUNY Law Professor), in which she states: "In my view, the court erred in concluding that the science on false confessions was not generally accepted . . . . The error in denying defendant's requests to call both experts was not harmless. We are long past equivocating about the reality of false confessions . . . , giving a wink and a nod to science all the while affirming convictions where experts are precluded from testifying. It's time to put this research before those who hold a person's liberty in their hands so that they may judge for themselves."