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Psychological evaluations and the competency to waive Miranda rights
By I. Bruce Frumkin, Alfredo Garcia
Psychology and the law of confessions share a symbiotic relationship. As
the “queen of proofs,” confessions play a prominent role in the
investigation and prosecution of crimes. The question that has plagued
the law is whether an individual who faces a “police-dominated”
atmosphere can withstand the psychological, emotional and physical
pressures that inhere in the confessional “box.” Before the advent of Miranda,
the Supreme Court applied the abstruse and indeterminate
“voluntariness” standard to determine the admissibility of a confession.
That criterion, as two thoughtful scholars have observed, “required
inquiry into metaphysical states of mind that, by the 1960s, were
believed to be inherently unknowable.”1 This metaphysical inquiry
represented the apogee of the intersection between law and psychology.
The Miranda doctrine was supposed to provide an antidote to the uneasy
link between psychology and the law of confessions. By providing a
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