A Project of the University of Michigan Law School and the MDefenders Program

This draft motion section relies on psychological and neuroscientific research to argue that young people who have been exposed to trauma behave differently when interrogated and are more likely to give false, unreliable, and involuntary confessions such that past exposure to trauma should be an important factor in the voluntariness analysis.

Pages 2-3:  Youth with trauma histories are quicker to perceive subtle threats from interrogators.

Pages 3-4: They are more sensitive to environmental stressors

Pages 4-5:  They are more distressed when they perceive threats leading to over- and under-reactions

Pages 5-6:  They often give in to authority figures and confess to avoid additional trauma

Pages 6-7:  They are more susceptible to police interrogation tactics like maximization and minimization.

Pages 7-11:  These pages discuss other potential uses of this emerging research, including (a) a request for funding to retain an expert to explain how a client’s trauma symptomatology may have manifested during an interrogation; (b) arguments that prior trauma exposure should be considered when determining whether an adolescent was in custody and being interrogated; and (c) arguments that prior trauma may affect the voluntariness of a Miranda waiver.