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The following tape recorded program is distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. The mother and father aged people about 80 years old each well found brutally beaten to death investigation very speedily centered suspicion on lira. That was the actual voice of WM-I Siegel assistant district attorney of Brooklyn and prosecutor in the case of the psychiatrist's questions. Mr. Siegel and other lawyers in this true end violence story will be heard now on the third program in this series of authoritative discussions and authentic damages ations of Supreme Court cases in which your right are on trial. Your right to run a trial is produced by the University of Minnesota radio station KUAR women under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in
cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters and the University of Minnesota Law School. And now to lead us to today's authenticated case from the Supreme Court records. Here is one of the consultant commentators for your rights are on trial. Professor of law at Columbia University. Mr. Munn Brad Paulson It is important for you to appreciate both the problems of the police and your rights as an individual. The best way to understand the healthy conflict between our need to feel safe and to be free and to appreciate the dynamic manner in which a lot resolves this conflict is to take an illustration. Our story today the case of Lyra versus dental is just such an illustration. Here is an actual case in which a brutal homicide was committed. An aged couple were beaten to death with a hammer in their own home. To ensure the safety of all society wants the perpetrator of such a crime in custody what happens
however when the most logical suspect the son of the old couple claims to be innocent. How far should the police go in questioning him. What is unreasonable treatment of a suspect. Our case today faces these questions. While it ends with an impressive Supreme Court decision it begins with a simple problem facing the district attorney's office in King's County New York. I was recently recorded in his office in the municipal building in Brooklyn. Here is assistant district attorney William II Siegel explaining the factual background and the point of crisis in the case of Lyra vs. dental. Mr. Siegel the mother and father aged people about 80 years old each well found brutally beaten to death investigation very speedily centered suspicion on Leroy Wheeler and his father had had recent numerous and violent
disagreements about his relationship to his father's business and the conduct of the business in general. We also learned he was desperate for cash so much so that in addition to his own little business is working for his father he worked nights in a bar and grill in Greenwich Village. It was under great pressure. There was also the absence of any motive for anybody else committing these murders. He was not entirely devoted much on the first evening which was a Tuesday. He was permitted to go home. He was questioned Friday throughout the day by the police and he persisted in his denial and they began to complain of the terrific sinus headache. It was at this point that what I might call the bait while the whole story came at a
psychiatry was produced by our office. He was a physician as well as a psychiatry must and at least one of the purposes of contact with Larry was to help him with his sinus headache. In addition he questioned lire concerning the details of the homicide. There was a chance for the district attorney to take a new tack in breaking a tough case. Perhaps the suspect would talk to a doctor in a way that he had failed to respond to the police. We should note that the purpose of the questioning is of course to produce a confession. A confession on the part of an accused is not always admissible in court. The district attorney's office was well aware of what a valid confession would be in Mr Siegel's own words. I call it of Criminal Procedure says that a confession made by a defendant is admissible in evidence against him. The last procured by
force threats or a promise of immunity made by the district attorney. We want you to listen closely now. While the voices you will hear are those of actors the lines they are speaking are exactly the same as those that were spoken when the psychiatry question Junior. What you are about to hear is a dramatization of an excerpt from the actual transcript as recorded by the police authority. Listen now and decide do you believe that this was a reasonable interrogation where their threats involve promises of leniency mis representation. Could this be mental coercion. And now a dramatization of part of the contested interrogation exactly as it occurred upon that Friday the 13th. But we did we tell ME something about yourself. You have a lot of friends. Yes I have I can hear you.
Yes I have retired. Two I's asleep and just now they ripped me up. That's But since Tuesday a lot of questions. By the thousands right you. Might arrested now after two hours sleep. You're pretty good and you look good. Went to the Babri cream and everything else. Everything is very tired right now sometimes we feel tired if we have something on our minds. It's what we call mental tension. If you if you talk to me and open up you're going to feel relieved. It's something this site has been bothering me something terrible. When you see you're a nervous boy you get irritable and and you know you might have got in a fit of temper. And tell me I'm I'm here to help you. I wish you could care I'm going to try I'm going to put my hand. Right here in your easy
and as I put my hand on your forehead you're going to bring back all of these thoughts that are coming to your mind. And I'm going to keep my hand on your forehead. I'm going to ask you questions and know you will be able to tell me. It's Own enough bit of argument. Speak up speak up. What did you do. Come on. Well I told him that. We weren't going to let him work anymore and. Then he he said my partner was a louse. My mother interfered and she said Bill was a nice fellow and I had working for her he said. But he said I'm the boss and he told my mother you shut up. And then he tried my mother the girl said. Dani pushed him a chair he pushed her in the chair. Yes that's the time you lost your temper.
Go ahead. What have I told them I said Pop think it over were silly IQ it would do us little good. You said Finish your damn TV and I'm going out to get my paper. Yes. So we went out. So so then what have mom said don't get excited. You were very excited. Yes. Go ahead. Come. On tell me what happened then. Come on now speak up. You're going to feel lots better we're with you 100 percent. Come on. Come on now. We'll help you. I can't. Yes you can. All these thoughts they're coming back to you. I have my hand on your hand. When your father went out. Your mother talked to you. And what happened. What did you do to your mother. Come on. Your father went to the paper then you did your mother did you
with what did you hit her with it with or went with a hammer and what did your state your mother with. We love my mother I know you did. I know you did. But you lost your temper now don't be afraid a lot of people do things that they're not responsible for well in a bit of a fit of temper you see. My mother was the only thing in the. That's right. What did you get her with. Come on speak up. It was so many you were very nice. I mean she's not going to treat my mother this wait that's right that's right I said she's not going to kill my mother he's not going to kill me. The only way we can stop. This gonna be stop we can't be the boss. Go ahead. He's got to be stopped you said so. My mother always. She always said she wanted to be rich. Yes. I can't take it. Come on. Yes you
can. Speak. So you thought it would be the right thing to do. I hear mothers said she wanted to be with your father. So what did you do. You know you know what you did. You know you hit your mother first. You hit your mother on the head. Speak up. What did you do. You know what do you think you do. I speak up now speak up. And you see I can make you talk very truly I can give you an injection. It's better if you tell it to me this way. Now. Did your mother start a fight with you. No. Did she continue the argument. Well my mother was in agreement with me. But you had no i mean like you known about going with your father's I would use it.
Well what then. I said. Man if he don't stop now kill him. I didn't hear that what do you say. I told her I said mom if he didn't stop the arguments. With me even Thank you. Will I ever feel better with you will you will if you tell me the truth. You won't if you don't. Know you. You may as well tell us and we'll work with you we'll play ball with your will help you if we can. It'll make you feel better come out now speak up. You told your mother wait until he comes back I'll kill you. Yes she said Here take a drink of water. Take it. I can't remember a sure yet. And. Open your eyes. I can't think what do you mean doesn't help you if you say you can I think when you know you did it so you may as well tell us and get out here. If you don't tell us and get our help I wash my hands of you.
Speak up. You did it in a fit of temper. Your mother went to the sink to give you some water. So you did what. I was standing there waiting for him to come back so I picked up the hammer picked up the hammer here. I didn't hear what you say. I picked up the hammer. Yes say it same like you. Q And did you have it in mind that your mother would die with your father because you always wanted it. She'll lease it. She always said what. Was it she wanted to die with. And you had it on your mind didn't you. Well I don't know I think until we just think you tell me. She was just like a baby to me just relaxing your thoughts to come back in because I had my hand on your forehead. Now if you tell us all the details we'll know the whole story of what happened. You picked up the hammer and you were standing at the sink. Yeah I was I was standing by the stores you were standing by the stove that's right excuse me
I made a mistake. Now what did you do with a hammer. You swung it. Just like you know nobody else could have done nobody else could have you say you must have swung it like that and your mother fell down. How many times did you swing it. Was it once or twice or three times like I don't know many. Time I was never a way with my mother. Were you angry with your father I was very angry with him. You felt that your mother should die at the same time with your father. I don't know. Everything is clear up to the point where you held the hammer in your he went straight in and was never mad at anyone in my life. Now look these people are going to throw the book at you unless you can show that in a fit of temper you got so angry that you did it otherwise they may toss premeditation and it's premeditation see.
I'd like to speak to the captain. Don't. Get mean of him of course. Captain is awful good guy last night. Mr. Mr. Lehrer I want to tell you something Captain. You seemed a little mixed up. His. Mind is clear now why I made him concentrate. His mind is much clearer. You can you can take my seat. You have just heard a dramatization of actual excerpts from the transcript of the questioning of Camillo Leroy Jr. on that Friday the 13th in January 1950. How legal was this form of interrogation. There are several aspects to this questioning to which we should pay particular attention.
You will note in the beginning that community was not told that he had a right to call a lawyer immediately nor was he told that he had no duty to respond to the questionings of the police or of the doctor. It is not common in the United States for a policeman to give either warning to an accused. Lyra had been questioned for about 24 hours by the police before the doctor was called in. I think furthermore it is important to recognize that he was a doctor. Mr Lyra was some reasonableness responded to the fact that he was talking to a medical man rather than to a policeman. The doctor built upon this and gave Mr Lyra assurances of support and help from time to time. Another important point were these promises of leniency that the doctor assured him that people sometimes did things for which they were not morally to blame. The doctors seemed to lighten the moral culpability of what actually occurred even on the assumption that Lyra had been the killer of his mother and father.
However the doctor was not always friendly. You will remember you once in a while seemed to threaten the Lyra and furthermore at one point said well I can make you talk. I can give you an injection. Indicating that if Lyra did not speak to the doctor freely that there would be other and perhaps more unpleasant ways of getting the truth out of him that this constitute a threat. I was undoubtedly a tired man at the time of the questioning. Another important fact it seems to me he is constantly urged by the doctor to speak up to close his eyes to open his eyes and so forth. It seems as you listen to the transcript that without question we are listening to a man who is quite near the breaking point. When Lyra confessed did he tell the truth or did he say what the police wanted him to say whether or not Lyra would have ultimately confessed with the detail of having hit his mother and killed her with a hammer we do not know. But the fact is that he did confess only after the idea had been put to him by the doctor for the first time.
Is there real danger that he is merely repeating a set of facts that originated with the doctor. As we consider the whole questioning by the physicians psychiatrists of Camille Lera it seems to me we must concern ourselves with two principle issues. Ron was Lyra subjected to treatment which might result in his telling a false story. A man who is very tired may well accept the suggestion of another by a kind of semi hypnosis and he may not quite understand what he is agreeing to and there by telephone story. We know now that this is a standard occurrence in the so called brainwashing process. There is a second matter a second big matter. Are there kinds of questioning and kinds of treatment of an accused which are so repulsive to his human dignity so savage that we will not permit the police to use them even though they will produce a true statement applied to our case today
even if the method used by the psychiatrist would produce a perfectly sound confession. Are they so bestial in the sense of treating law as an instrument rather than as a human being that we would say to the police. You may not do this and if you do you may not retain the fruits of your questioning so far as producing them as evidence at the trial. The courts of the state of New York considered the kind of questioning you heard dramatized and came to the conclusion that in this questioning Lara had been deprived of Due Process of Law. This did not settle the case however as the confession Lyra made immediately following the questioning by the psychiatry this was not the only confession he made on the same evening Lyra made additional statements to a police officer to a friend and business associate and to two state prosecutors. After the reversal in the first trial Lyra was retried by the state of New York. This time the courts could not use the admissions
given to the psychiatrist but only the confessions made by a liar as given afterwards to other people. This second Lyra trial resulted in a conviction in the state of New York and that conviction was affirmed by the New York Court of Appeals. Lyra was sentenced to die and sent to the death house at Sing Sing Prison where he was to spend over five years as his case was fought through the courts. In the second case Lyra's lawyers took the point of view that coercion or mistreatment inherent in the first confession spilled over into later confession in other words the first confession colored all of the others given as they were on the same day within five hours. Would this view stand up in court. I had been assigned counsel by the Court of Appeals. His attorney Frederick W. Scholem of New York City worked on this case for nearly five years. His total fee $500 a standard fee paid by the court for a prisoner who cannot afford his own counsel. A modest one
indeed. Here is Frederick double your Scholem as he recorded this statement in Manhattan especially for your rights are on trial and Mr. Show them the facts of the police and the district attorney present. And listen to the acts of mega-corporation the interrogation suggestions threats and promises of leniency meted out to Bennett by the psychiatrist as S. came over the loud speaker attached to the microphone concealed in the acquisition of her love the alleged confessions were made on the night of the fourth day of the questioning one after another without interruption and only after the defendant was first exposed to the mental coercion practiced by an expert in hypnosis and psychiatry. The defendant was convicted on a regular bear of any evidence against
him except the alleged confession. That was the voice of Frederick. Your show I'm counsel for coming to you a liar a junior in his judicial appeals although the Supreme Court of the United States on the first appeal had refused to review his conviction. All doors were not closed to Lyra's attorneys. It is possible in such cases to seek relief in the federal court system itself. And so all state remedies are exhausted. The lab or case then was taken into the federal courts. Again an appeal was unsuccessful although this time in the federal court directly below the Supreme Court of the United States there was a strong dissenting opinion. This dissent was expressed by a circuit Judge Jerome Frank Judge Frank is author of several legal books including courts on trial. And now as recorded especially for this program at the Yale Law School. Here is Judge your own Frank reading part of his own opinion in the latter case.
It has no significance that in this case we must assume there was no physical brutality for psychological torture may be far more cruel far more symptomatic of sadism. Many a man who can endure beatings will yield to fatigue any member of this or any other court to escape such anguish would admit to almost any crime. Indeed the infliction of such psychological punishment is more reprehensible than a physical attack. It leaves no discernible marks on the victim because it is thus concealed. It has under the brutality Tarion regimes become the favorite weapon of the secret police bent on procuring confessions as a means of convicting the innocent. That was a part of the dissenting opinion by Judge Jerome Frank when the lack of a case was appealed to the federal circuit court. The court itself upheld Lyra's conviction and sentence of death. And so once again liars attorneys turn
to the Supreme Court of the United States. Attorney Frederick Scholem was joined by attorney Ozment Kay Frankel at this point. As recorded in his law office in New York City. Here is a liar's attorney for his Supreme Court appeal. Mr. Osmond K. Fraenkel The trouble with that decision by the Court of Appeals in New York high level laws doesn't really stick. It didn't face up to the fact that all of the confessions were part of a single act but the district attorney had gotten the psychiatrist to go in there to soften up the defendant. That was not recognized by the New York courts. So for the second time we had to go back to the United States Supreme Court so to speak with our hat in our hand and ask them to exercise their discretion to review the case. This time they did so. We were delighted that the Supreme Court agreed to review the case and then we were able
to argue the basic constitutional issue that was Ozment Frankel the attorney who argued Kamil your Lyra's case before the Supreme Court of the United States. What was the Supreme Court's decision in this case. On the 1st of June 1954 the highest court of our land decided the case of Lyra vs. dental and set a new interpretation on your right to a reasonable treatment in interrogation by the police. Here is a part of the majority opinion of the United States Supreme Court in the latter case as written by Mr Justice Hugo Black. The undisputed facts in this case are irreconcilable with petitioners mental freedom to confess or to deny suspected participation in a crime and the relation of the confession is so close that one must say the facts of wanton control the character of the other. All were simply parts of one continuous process or were extracted within a period of about five
hours as the climax of days and nights of intermittent intensive police questioning. First and already physically and emotionally exhausted suspects ability to resist interrogation was broken to almost trancelike submission by use of the arts of a highly skilled psychiatrist. Then the confession petitioner began making to the psychiatrist was filled in and perfected by additional statements given in rapid succession to a police officer a trusted friend and two state prosecutors. We hold that confessions extracted in such a manner from a lone defendant unprotected by counsel is not consistent with due process of law as required by our Constitution. What happened after the United States Supreme Court decision. What happened when Khamenei Alero was retried without using any of the unconstitutional confessions.
From the New York Times for April 28 1956 our Brooklyn men who three times had been sentenced to die for the murder of his parents was set free today by the Court of Appeals. A man was coming you know later a junior now 55 years old. New York State's highest court dismissed by afforded to vote the first degree murder indictment against lire and ordered him freed from the Sing Sing death house. Once again here is one of the consultant commentators for you all rights are on trial Professor Mohn Redpoll so. What does the Supreme Court decision in the latter case mean for us this decision embodies a standard to which police questioning must conform. It is a standard which any of us can expect the police to meet. Should we sit in the seat of the accused. On the other hand we should be aware of the fact that the police feel they need time for questioning at length and in secret and that they may need to use tricks and all sorts of appeals in order to discover the
perpetrators of many serious and brutal crimes. The scales of justice must often weigh the protection of society against the rights of the individual. Our story today has been an example of this vital process our constitutional system of Law in action. It starts out with one person who may be wrong. It goes to the highest court of the land and returns to all of us in the form of a dynamic interpretation for both our and our individual responsibilities and rights. You have just heard the third program and this is your rights on trial for women cooperation with the University of Minnesota Law School under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. This program is distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. What is meant by your right to be protected against illegal search and seizure. This question will be
answered next week in the case of the California bookie. An authentic dramatization of a High Court case in which trial. This is the Radio Network.
Your rights are on trial
Reasonable Interrogation
Producing Organization
University of Minnesota
KUOM (Radio station : Minneapolis, Minn.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features William I. Siegel, assistant district attorney of Brooklyn, talking about "The Case of the Psychiatrist's Questions" and issues of interrogation.
Series Description
Discussions and dramatizations of recent high court decisions. Features Professors of Law Monrad Paulsen of Columbia University and Charles Alan Wright of University of Texas.
Broadcast Date
Law Enforcement and Crime
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Commentator: Wright, Charles Alan
Commentator: Paulsen, Monrad G.
Funder: Nathanson, Gary
Producing Organization: University of Minnesota
Producing Organization: KUOM (Radio station : Minneapolis, Minn.)
Speaker: Siegel, William I.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-18-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:24
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Chicago: “Your rights are on trial; Reasonable Interrogation,” 1957-04-21, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 23, 2024,
MLA: “Your rights are on trial; Reasonable Interrogation.” 1957-04-21. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Your rights are on trial; Reasonable Interrogation. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from