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False Confessions: Why Do They Happen?

Date: April 24, 2014

Location: TUC 220

Time: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

CLE: 5 hrs. G @ OH & KY


(Register here)

(Free for UC faculty, staff and students.  Please rsvp to Mindy Lawson at


This forum on false confessions and why they happen presents you with prominent legal scholars and clinical psychologists from around the country who specialize in understanding competency to stand trial, under what conditions defendants confess, and how cognitive deficits impact interrogations.  Questions addressed include: Why do false confessions occur? How do Miranda warnings and competency figure into interrogations that result in confessions?  How do linguistic and cognitive deficits, mental illness, and age affect a defendant’s ability to interact with legal counsel or police?

Program Speakers

Scott Bresler, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Clinical Director of the Risk Management Center in the Division of Forensic Psychiatry and Director of Inpatient Psychology at University Hospital at the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH). Dr. Scott Bresler coordinates and implements psychological and neuropsychological assessments. He also provides fitness for duty evaluations, threat assessment consultations, and program consultations for various corporate entities, police agencies and universities in the region, as well as performs forensic assessments in criminal and civil cases in the Cincinnati area and around the country.

Prof. Steven Drizin, J.D., Legal Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions (2005-2013) and Associate Director of the Bluhm Legal Clinical and Northwestern Law (Chicago, IL).  Steve Drizin has been on the Northwestern Law faculty since 1991.  Mr. Drizin studies cases all over the country involving false confessions and works to support national efforts to modify interrogation procedures to avoid wrongful convictions.  He has published numerous books and articles regarding this subject matter, including True Stories of False Confessions, (with Rob Warden).

Thomas Grisso, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Director of Psychology, and Director of the Law-Psychiatry Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (Worcester, MA).  Tom Grisso is known for his work on developing forensic assessments, and for his research on juveniles' capacities in legal contexts. His contributions have been recognized by awards from the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the American Psychology-Law Society, and an honorary Doctor of Law from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Michele LaVigne, J.D., Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School (Madison, WI).  Before joining the clinical faculty at the University of Wisconsin, Michele LaVigne practiced as a State Public Defender in Madison.  She now teaches criminal law, professional responsibility, and trial advocacy, and directs a public defender internship program.  She is a long-time faculty member at the National Criminal Defense College and the Wisconsin Trial Skills Academy.  Her research and advocacy interests concern language deficits among defendants and the impact on those deficits on behavior, communication, and due process.

Paula Shear, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Director for the Clinical Program in Psychology, and Graduate Director for Clinical Psychology at the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH). Paula Shear’s research interests are in the neuropsychological effects of neuropsychiatric disorders; affective and social cognition; neuropsychology of epilepsy; neuroimaging; and cognitive assessment.