Expert Testimony Based on Grisso Protocol Excluded under Daubert and Confession of Fourteen-Year-Old Defendant Admitted

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The Appellate Court of Connecticut ruled a trial court properly excluded expert testimony regarding the nature of a juvenile's confession and concluded the juvenile had knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his privilege against self-incrimination. The defendant, convicted of manslaughter, had been fourteen years of age at the time of the crime. He attempted to suppress his confession at trial based on the testimony of a clinical psychologist.

The psychologist testified she had evaluated the defendant to determine whether he was competent to understand his Miranda rights. As part of her evaluation, she tested the defendant with a set of questions addressing the specific tasks associated with waiving Miranda rights. She explained these questions were part of a protocol developed by Thomas Grisso, a forensic psychologist whose work has focused on juvenile competency. Based on this test, she concluded the defendant did not understand his right to remain silent nor the role of an attorney during the interrogation process. The appellate court ruled the trial court had properly subjected the expert testimony to a Daubent analysis because the Grisso test constituted an "innovative scientific technique." Under that analysis, the court determined the defendant bore the burden of proving its reliability and concluded the defendant had failed to meet this burden. …