Floyd v. Cain

Brief Filed: 5/10
Court: Supreme Court of Louisiana
Year of Decision: (2011)

Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Issue

At issue before the Court is the reliability of a legally voluntary confession in light of new evidence of innocence

Index Topic

False Confessions

Facts

John Floyd was convicted 29 years ago of murder based solely on a confession. He has a full scale IQ of 59 and, at age 60, reads at the level of a second-grader. He was sentenced to life without parole. In February 2010, the district court in New Orleans denied John Floyd a new trial in spite of significant new evidence of his innocence, much of which was withheld by the state for 28 years. That decision was appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court. The Innocence Project requested that APA file an amicus brief providing the court with the research regarding false confessions.

APA’s Position

APA filed an amicus brief to educate the court about social science data regarding false confessions and the many reasons that innocent people can and do confess to crimes they did not commit. APA’s brief asserts that scientific research and basic psychological science indicate that not every confession that is “voluntary” under the law is true. The brief also addresses the reasons why innocent people confess as well as the issue of how voluntary false confessions are difficult for judges, juries and others to discern.

Results

In July 2011, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Floyd in a 4-3 decision.