Judicial Examination of the Accused–A Remedy for the Third Degree

Reprint from 30 Michigan Law Review 1224.

In its report on “Lawlessness in Law Enforcement” the Wickersham Commission concludes that in the police systems of a number of American municipalities the “third degree” is very generally practiced as a means of extorting from accused persons under arrest confessions, incriminating statements, and other information of value to the police. The conclusion of the Commission confirms the results of private investigation made in the same field. It is true that the methods of inquiry pursued by the Commission leave doubt as to the accuracy of some of the facts reported. But the quality of the evidence submitted as the result of this and prior investigations establishes at least a residuum of “naked, ugly facts,” the authenticity of which cannot reasonably be denied.