The Champion

November 2003 , Page 12 

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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 “bright-line”

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