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Richard Ofshe is a Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. His personal homepage at that institution lists his areas of interest to be coercive social control, social psychology, influence in police interrogation, and influence leading to pseudo-memory in psychotherapy. [1]

Ofshe has been characterized as a "world-renowned expert on influence interrogation"[2]. He believes that coerced confessional testimony is extremely unreliable, and asserted in a Time Magazine article that "Recovered-memory therapy will come to be recognized as the quackery of the 20th century."[3] In a more recent Time Magazine article in 2005, Ofshe is quoted as saying that false testimony does not just occur through coercion, but may also occur in instances of "exhaustion or mental impairment." However, he also stated that it is only recently that juries have been allowed to hear expert testimony about these kinds of theories[4].

Ofshe appeared on CNN in 2006, discussing the Warren Jeffs case. He was asked to answer the question: "..what makes people give up control over their own lives and let a religious -- extreme religious leader like Warren Jeffs dictate essentially everything they do?.." Ofshe stated that Jeffs simply had to "maintain a belief that was already there", because he had inherited the fundamentalist Mormon group from his father. He stated that: "That gives him an enormous edge over someone who starts a cult group and has to get people to adopt a new ideology. He's already got a big chunk of it in place. And then what he does is build a community, build an organization that maximizes his power and he's done that as well."[5]

EducationEdit

HonorsEdit

Ofshe has received several honors and recognition for his research and writings[6][7][8]:

  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, 1973-1974[9]
  • Recipient of Roy Dorcus Award for the Best Paper on Clinical Hypnosis of 1994. Awarded by the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis for "Recovered Memory Therapy and Robust Repression: Influence and Pseudomemories."[10]

The Point Reyes Light Newspaper received the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1979, a newspaper that Ofshe worked for during that time, but his resume and other sources attribute the award to Ofshe and the other writer of the Synanon piece, including the New York Times, Salon.com, Psychology Today, the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, and other publications[11][12][13][14][15][16][7][8].

Professional memberships Edit

Expert testimonyEdit

In 2002, Ofshe appeared on the Larry King Live show, discussing the reliability of confessions: "Joining us now to talk about that is Richard Ofshe, professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, who was written extensively about confessions that turn out to be false."[17]. In 2005, the Associated Press characterized Ofshe as a "cult expert", when commenting on the murder trial of Marcus Wesson, "a domineering patriarch who allegedly controlled his family with religious teachings, incest and threats of mass suicide."[18]

Tyrone Noling (2006)

Prosecutors in the case of Tyrone Noling, a man on waiting on death row for the murder of an elderly couple in Atwater Township, Ohio relied heavily on confession testimony. In 2006, Ofshe asserted that this kind of testimony is not always reliable, and may not be true: "All the confessions should be classified as "untrustworthy" and "unreliable," said social psychologist Richard Ofshe, an expert in false confessions hired by Noling's appellate lawyers to review the men's statements." Ofshe stated that this was because "coercive interrogation tactics" were utilized by law enforcement to elicit these confessions[19].

"The Norfolk Four" (2005)

In 1997, a young Navy-wife, Michelle Moore-Bosko, was found murdered. Police were convinced that she was murdered and raped by eight men. Five men later confessed, but forensic DNA evidence was only found tying one to the crimes. The four other men who confessed all recanted their testimony but were convicted anyway. Three of the four are currently serving life sentences. Lawyers from the Innocence Project agreed to take the case - the Innocence Project "champions the cases of inmates it believes were wrongly convicted." The lawyers hired Ofshe as an expert witness in false testimony, and he stated: "Four innocent servicemen are languishing in prison for no reason, other than expediency". As of 2005, the men were still serving life sentences in jail[20].

Marty Tankleff (2005)

In 2005, Ofshe appeared on CBS's 48 Hours, commenting on the Marty Tankleff case. He was helping to work on Tankleff's appeals process. The detectives had obtained a confession statement from Tankleff, but neglected to videotape it. Ofshe asserted that it was a false confession, and that if there had been a videotape, the court would have been able to witness the actual police interrogation methods used. "Ofshe believes that after being badgered for hours, Marty began to question his own memory -- and the police gave him a way out."[21]

Robert Burns Springsteen IV (2001)

In 2001, Judge Lynch "severely limited the testimony of defense expert witness Dr. Richard Ofshe", in the case of alleged murderer Robert Burns Springsteen IV. Springsteen had allegedly been involved in "notorious" murders in 1991. Ofshe asserted that there was the possibility of police coercion utlilized in the testimony confession. Judge Lynch stated that this was a judgement for the jury to make[22].

Paul Ingram (1996)

On June 7, 1996, he testified at the pardon hearing for Paul Ingram. In a TV-movie about that case, Forgotten Sins, he was portrayed by William Devane.

West Memphis 3 (1993)

Ofshe gave testimony in the case of the West Memphis 3, three boys tried and convicted for the murders of three children in the Robin Hood Hills area of West Memphis, Arkansas, United States during 1993. Damien Echols - the alleged ringleader - was sentenced to death. Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin were sentenced to life in prison. The case has received considerable attention. Many critics charge that the arrests and convictions were a miscarriage of justice inspired by a misguided moral panic, and that the defendants were wrongfully convicted during a period of intense media scrutiny and so-called "satanic panic".

During Jessie's trial, Ofshe testified that the brief recording was a "classic example" of police coercion.[23] Professor Ofshe has described Misskelley's statement saying, "[It is] the stupidest fucking confession I've ever seen."[24] There is no evidence that Misskelley denied his role in the crime and subsequent to his conviction that he confessed a second and third time, the latter of which with both of his attorneys present and the entire matter on tape.[25][26]

Ofshe's affidavit asserting that Sikhism is a cult (1990)

In an affidavit signed on December 28, 1990, Ofshe asserted that "Based on my professional knowledge, on my previous study of the Sikh movement, on documents I have reviewed, and on interviews I have conducted with former members of the movement [I have reached the conclusion that ], the Sikh movement in the United States exhibits characteristics common to cult organizations, including the use of intimidation and other forms of coercion to impose control and enforce norms within the group." [27]

John E. Reid and Associates' critiqueEdit

For more details on this topic, see Reid technique.

John E. Reid and Associates is a Chicago based firm which trains police detectives in interrogative techniques.

The John E. Reid and Associates company Web site maintains several pages of documents in a section labeled "Critics Corner." Here they provide examples of cases in which Ofshe and/or Dr. Richard Leo's expert witness testimony was either rejected, or had less-than positive outcomes at trial, including:[28].

  • People v. Ladell Deangelo Brown, the Court of Appeal, Third District, California affirmed the conviction of the defendant. [29]
  • Staye v. Angel Torres, July 2006, the Court of Appeals of Ohio, rejected Torres' claim "that the trial court erred by excluding the testimony of interrogation expert, Dr. Richard Ofshe." [30]
  • Harold Wayne Nichols v. Ricky Bell Warden, the United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee rejected Bell's claim that "the coercive nature of the interrogation process was demonstrated through the testimony Dr. Richard Ofshe." [31]
  • The People v. Amy Marie Garvin, the defense offered expert testimony from Ofshe who testified that "...Poorly trained interrogators use false "evidence ploys" in conjunction with inappropriate psychological "motivators" to coerce false confessions without knowing that the confessions are false. These interrogators focus only on producing a confession without thinking about the guilt or innocence of the person interrogated." The jury found the defendant guilty.[32]
  • State of Florida vs Nathan Brinkley, the Judge denied the defendant's motion to suppress his confession based on Ofshe' expert witness testimony. After reading the transcript of Ofshe's interview of the defendant, the court found that "Dr. Ofshe did, in fact, ask the defendant numerous leading questions, and that he did indeed suggest to the defendant that he was bated, coerced and improperly motivated during the interview." [33]
  • The People of the State of California vs. Amy Marie Garvin. [34]

The site also hosts excerpted portions of a presentation made by President Joseph Buckley at a "Reid Conference for Investigative Training" in November 2000. Buckley critiques Ofshe and Leo's reliance on certain studies for their assertions. In other instances, he asserts that other studies done by Ofshe and Leo, including The Consequences of False Confessions, rely on "anecdotal information." Buckley then goes on to discuss "The Reid Technique" in depth, and give situations where false confessions might actually be expected, and even possibly conform to the Ofshe/Leo theories[35].

On yet another page of their site, John E. Reid and Associates respond to Ofshe's assertion that "Reid Technique teaches investigators how to elicit false confessions through the use of what he terms the accident scenario". In his analysis, Ofshe cited Criminal Interrogation and Confessions, a text written by John Reid and Joseph Buckely[36]. John E. Reid and Associates respond to Ofshe's assertions, stating that "Richard Ofshe's testimony that this technique is designed to elicit a false confession is certainly not accurate. The technique is not designed to, nor is it apt to cause an innocent person to falsely accept responsibility for a crime he or she did not commit. At most, it allows a guilty suspect to accept physical responsibility for committing his crime coupled with a false intention behind his act."[36].

In an academic paper, Steven Drizin, a law professor at Northwestern University, and Dr. Richard Leo (psychologist) of UC Irvine and an academic associate of Dr. Richard Ofshe - criticize the "Reid Technique". Their paper is entitled: "False Confessions in the Post-DNA World"[37]. They assert that John E. Reid and Associates training methods give: "no thought to how the methods they advocate communicate psychologically coercive messages and sometimes lead the innocent to confess."[38] Richard Leo's mentor was Ofshe. Leo is a social psychologist[38].

Joseph Buckley, president of John E. Reid and Associates, denies any coercive nature in their training approach. He states that false confessions in interrogation-related testimony is "exceedingly rare".[38].

DIMPAC task forceEdit

Main article: APA taskforce on Deceptive and Indirect Techniques of Persuasion and Control

After the American Psychological Association's board of Social and Ethical Responsibility for Psychology (BSERP) rejected a report presented by the APA taskforce on Deceptive and Indirect Techniques of Persuasion and Control, stating that it lacked the scientific rigor and an evenhanded critical approach for an the imprimatur of the APA, [39] Margaret Singer and Ofshe sued the APA in 1992 for "defamation, frauds, aiding and abetting and conspiracy". The case was dismissed by the court in 1994 on the basis that the claims of defamation, frauds, aiding and abetting and conspiracy constituted a dispute over the application of the First Amendment to a public debate over academic and professional matters; that the parties may be be described as the opposing camps in a longstanding debate over certain theories in the field of psychology, and that the plaintiffs could not establish deceit with reference to representations made to other parties in the lawsuit. [40]

In a further ruling, James R. Lamden ordered Ofshe and Singer to pay $80,000 in attorneys' fees under California's SLAPP suit law, which penalizes those who harass others for exercising their First Amendment rights. At that time, Singer and Ofshe declared their intention to sue Michael Flomenhaft, the lawyer that represented them in the case, for malpractice.[41]

See also Edit

BibliographyEdit

BooksEdit

  • Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, And Sexual Hysteria, with co-author Ethan Watters
  • Therapy's Delusions: The Myth of the Unconscious and the Exploitation of Today's Walking Worried, with co-author Ethan Watters

ArticlesEdit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Personal home page at Berkeley University
  2. Public Defender Awards, Florida Public Defender Association, Craig Stewart Barnard Award
  3. Lies of the Mind: Repressed-memory therapy is harming patients, devastating families and intensifying a backlash against mental-health practitioners, Time Magazine, Cover Story, Nov. 29, 1993, LEON JAROFF
    "Recovered-memory therapy will come to be recognized as the quackery of the 20th century," predicts Richard Ofshe, a social psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley. And in the process, Emory University psychiatry professor George Ganaway fears, it may "trigger a backlash against ((legitimate charges of)) child abuse. As these stories are discredited, society may end up throwing the baby out with the bath water -- and the hard- earned credibility of the child-abuse-survivor movement will go down the drain."
  4. True Confessions?, Time Magazine, December 12, 2005.
    A 2002 study from Northwestern University showed that 59% of all miscarriages of justice in homicide investigations in Illinois--where a year later Governor George Ryan commuted all death sentences--involved false confessions. But despite such evidence, few confessions are ever thrown out. According to Richard J. Ofshe, a social psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and an expert in false confessions, only recently have juries been allowed to hear testimony about the phenomenon, which can occur as a result of coercion, exhaustion or mental impairment. The juries in the Norfolk trials were not among those. Many experts say the solution is to require police to videotape all interrogations and confessions of suspects in capital cases, as is the law in Minnesota, Illinois, Alaska and Maine.
  5. Interview with Fredricka Whitfield, CNN, News Anchor, September 2, 2006.
    WHITFIELD: So what makes people give up control over their own lives and let a religious -- extreme religious leader like Warren Jeffs dictate essentially everything they do? And what does go through the minds of such leaders? For some answers, we turn to Richard Ofshe, a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California Berkeley. Good to see you professor. RICHARD OFSHE, UC BERKELEY: Good morning. WHITFIELD: so, what is at the route of this power? How is it one man can convince not one but thousands of people that they have divine power? OFSHE: Well first of all, you have to recognize he didn't build this group, he inherited this group. WHITFIELD: From his father. OFSHE: From his father but also from the tradition of Mormonism. I mean, you have to go back and look at the fact that they think of themselves as the true Mormons, essentially, the fundamentalist Mormons. WHITFIELD: So he didn't have to do the job of convincing anyone. He just maintain a belief that was already there? OFSHE: That gives him an enormous edge over someone who starts a cult group and has to get people to adopt a new ideology. He's already got a big chunk of it in place. And then what he does is build a community, build an organization that maximizes his power and he's done that as well.
  6. Curriculum Vitae
  7. 7.0 7.1 Frank Fuster case, Ofshe testimony, affidavit, credentials, honors
    I hereby certify that the statements I have made herein are true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, information and belief. I am aware that if I have made any statement, knowing or believing it to be false, I am subject to the penalties of perjury.
  8. 8.0 8.1 State of Florida vs. David Onstott, Circuit Court of Thirteenth Judicial District, CV attached as official part of court record.
  9. John Simon Guggenheim, Memorial Foundation Of Fellows Page.
    Richard J. Ofshe, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley: 1973.
  10. Berkeley Gazette, Roy Dorcus Award, Richard Ofshe.
  11. CBS's Attack on Fear, New York Times, October 10, 1984
    T. S. Cook's script is based on the book The Light in Synanon, in which Dave Mitchell, Cathy Mitchell and Dr. Richard Ofshe recount the details of covering a story that won them a 1979 Pulitzer Prize for public- service reporting.
  12. Psychology Today, Jill Neimark, The Harvard professor & the UFOs
    Berkeley social psychologist Richard Ofshe, who shared a Pulitzer Prize...
  13. Salon Health, Therapy is all talk
    In 1994, freelance writer Ethan Watters and UC-Berkeley professor of sociology and Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Ofshe published "Making Monsters," a full-throttle attack on one of the most controversial issues in psychology: recovered memory syndrome.
  14. FMSF Advisory Board, Dr. Richard Ofshe, profile
    For his role in the Point Reyes Light newspaper's exposé of Synanon, Dr. Ofshe shared in the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service that was awarded to the Light.
  15. The American Sociologist, Footnotes, [www2.asanet.org/footnotes/FNIndex.html], May 1979 (Volume 7, Number 5)
    Richard Ofshe Shares Pulitzer Prize for Public Service
  16. Drive-thru Deliverance, Phoenix New Times, Oct. 2000
    In an article titled Coercive Persuasion and Attitude Change, Richard J. Ofshe, professor of social psychology at UC-Berkeley and co-recipient of the 1979 Pulitzer Prize, defines coercive persuasion, or brainwashing, as programs of social influence capable of producing substantial behavior and attitude change through the use of coercive tactics, persuasion, and/or interpersonal and group manipulations.
  17. Insight, Larry King Live, Aired June 18, 2002
  18. Jury selection to begin in multiple murder and sexual abuse case, Associated Press, January 25, 2005, Juliana Barbassa
    Showing how Wesson controlled his household through ideology, surveillance and fear will be at the crux of the case, said Richard Ofshe, a sociologist and cult expert with the University of California, Berkeley. "If you want to take this seriously, you really have to learn how he ran this group," said Ofshe. The prosecution will have to show how he could get "nine people who didn't feel like dying to sit still."
  19. Death row doubts Lies put man on death row, men say, August 13, 2006, By Andrea Simakis, 'Plain Dealer, Reporter
    All the confessions should be classified as "untrustworthy" and "unreliable," said social psychologist Richard Ofshe, an expert in false confessions hired by Noling's appellate lawyers to review the men's statements.
    "Coercive interrogation tactics" were used to elicit all their declarations, he wrote in a report that has been filed with the court. Their recollections were deliberately contaminated during extensive sessions with Craig, Ofshe wrote. Ofshe also concluded that any memories Wolcott had about the crime weren't his own, but were created from suggestions and coaching provided by his interrogators.
  20. Three Men to Seek Clemency in '97 Rape and Slaying in Norfolk, November 10, 2005, The Washington Post, Tom Jackman.
    "Four innocent servicemen are languishing in prison for no reason, other than expediency," said Richard J. Ofshe, a California sociologist and expert in false confessions. "If they were being held by a foreign government, we would send in the Army to get them out."
  21. Will New Evidence Give Marty Tankleff A Second Chance?, March 11, 2005, CBS, 48 Hours.
  22. Grounds for Appeal?, The Austin Chronicle, JUNE 15, 2001, BY JORDAN SMITH
    Judge Lynch also severely limited the testimony of defense expert witness Dr. Richard Ofshe, a social psychologist who specializes in police interrogation techniques and how they can create false confessions when used "improperly." Lynch said the judgment of whether Springsteen's confession was coerced was the jury's to make. However, Ofshe said he sought only to offer information that would help the jurors make their evaluation.
  23. Steel, Fiona. "The West Memphis 3." Court TV. 17 Mar. 2006 Crime Library, Notorious Murders.
  24. Notable quotes, Ofshe, Re: Misskelley's 6.3.93 statement
  25. Jessie Misskelley's patrol car statement, February 4, 1994.
  26. Jessie Misskelley statement, February 17, 1995.
  27. First Judicial District Court, County of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Mark Baker vs. Yogi Bhajan, et al., Case No. SF 88-2286 (C)
  28. John E. Reid and Associates, "Critics Corner", Additional Documents
  29. [http://www.reid.com/pdfs/20060823-2.pdf Court of Appeal, Third District, Case No. C050121. (Super.Ct.No. 02F03173). June 23, 2006
  30. Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga County, Case No. 86530, July 20, 2006
  31. Harold Wayne Nichols, v. Ricky Bell, Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, No. 1:02 CV 330, July 25, 2006
  32. Court of Appeal, Sixth District, California. Case No. H026723 (Santa Clara County Super. Ct. No. FF301260). Feb, 10, 2005.
  33. Case NO.: CRC99-18956CFANO, Division: M, Nathan Brinkle, Defendant. Order denying defendant;s motion to suppress, 2002, APRIL 18,2002, AND MAY 10, 2002
  34. Case No. FF301260 Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, Octiver 6, 2003
  35. Critics Corner: Defending the Reid Technique of Interrogation, John E. Reid and Associates, Web site., excerpted portions, Joseph Buckley presentation "Reid Conference for Investigative Training", November 6-8, 2000
  36. 36.0 36.1 Critics Corner: Interrogation, John E. Reid and Associates, Web site.
    Richard Ofshe claims that the Reid Technique teaches investigators how to elicit false confessions through the use of what he terms the accident scenario. He cites page 103 of our text Criminal Interrogation and Confessions, 3rd ed. Inbau, F., Reid, J. & Buckley, J., 1986 Williams and Wilkins.
  37. "False Confessions in the Post-DNA World", Steven Drizin, Northwestern University, Dr. Richard Leo (psychologist), UC Irvine, North Carolina Law Review
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 "UnTrue confessions: Legal system plagued by growing number of false admissions by defendants", John Wilkens, April 15, 2004. The San-Diego Tribune
  39. APA Brief in the Molko Case, from CESNUR website, [APA later withdrew the organization from the brief], 1987
    [t]he methodology of Drs. Singer and Benson has been repudiated by the scientific community, that the hypotheses advanced by Singer were little more than uninformed speculation, based on skewed data and that "[t]he coercive persuasion theory ... is not a meaningful scientific concept.
  40. Case No. 730012-8, Margaret Singer, et al., Plaintiff v. American Psychological Association, et. Al., Defendants
    "This case, which involves claims of defamation, frauds, aiding and abetting and conspiracy, clearly constitutes a dispute over the application of the First Amendment to a public debate over matters both academic and professional. The disputant may fairly be described as the opposing camps in a longstanding debate over certain theories in the field of psychology. The speech of which the plaintiff's complain, which occurred in the context of prior litigation and allegedly involved the "fraudulent" addition of the names of certain defendants to documents filed in said prior litigation, would clearly have been protected as comment on a public issue whether or not the statements were made in the contest of legal briefs. The court need not consider whether the privilege of Civil Code 47 (b) extends to an alleged interloper in a legal proceeding. Plaintiffs have not presented sufficient evidence to establish any reasonable probability of success on any cause of action. In particular Plaintiffs cannot establish deceit with reference to representations made to other parties in the underlying lawsuit. Thus Defendants' Special Motions to Strike each of the causes at action asserted against them, pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 425.16 is granted."
  41. Allen. Charlotte, Brainwashed! Scholars of Cults Accuse Each Other of Bad Faith, December 1998. Available online

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