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Quick and Dirty

Roll The Tape

By Van Smith | Posted 4/16/2008

The Maryland legislature passed a bill (HB 6) during this year's session requiring law enforcers to videotape interrogations of some violent-crime suspects, a reform that is expected to produce stronger evidence at trials, including more airtight confessions ("Fess Up," Jan. 23). Gov. Martin O'Malley is still reviewing the bill before deciding whether or not to sign it into law, according to gubernatorial spokesman Rick Abbruzzesse. "It's kind of controversial," Abbruzzesse says. "But [the governor] supported it" while it was debated and amended during the legislative session.

The House of Delegates' lead sponsor of the bill, Baltimore City's Curt Anderson (D-43rd), says he is pleased with the outcome, though the bill was watered down to assure passage. If O'Malley signs it, then law-enforcement agencies in Maryland will be required to videotape interrogations of people suspected of murder, rape, and first- and second-degree sexual assault.

Initially, the bill sought to exclude from trial any evidence collected during interrogations when required videotaping is not done, Anderson explains. The final version, he says, simply gives defendants the option of arguing before a judge that the resulting evidence was collected without following official state policy. "The amendment does take away a big, thick stick" from defendants in such cases, Anderson says. "But there's still a stick."

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