Revisiting Voluntariness: Seeking Clarity in the Era of False Confessions

2019 Symposium

The 2019 JCLC Symposium features scholars, experts, and practitioners from across the country who will discuss the changing legal landscape with regard to the voluntariness of confessions, an issue that recently took center stage in Dassey v. Dittman. The Symposium will consist of a full day of discussion, beginning with an address from our keynote speaker, former Solicitor General Seth Waxman.

Our four panels will tackle the following issues surrounding the voluntariness of confessions: 1) an overview of the jurisprudence and recent appellate cases; 2) the practical challenges surrounding voluntariness, with perspectives from defense counsel, prosecutors, and law enforcement; 3) the impact of socioeconomic status, race, and geography in the coercion of confessions; and 4) legislative protections and prospective legislative solutions.

The Symposium will be held in Lowden Hall at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. The address is 375 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. Attendees may choose to attend the entire symposium or individual events. Registration is recommended (at this link) but not required to attend.  The schedule is as follows:

Thursday, February 28, 2019

9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Lincoln Hall
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
375 E. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611

9:00-9:30     | Guest Arrival. Coffee and light breakfast will be served.

9:30-9:45     | Keynote Speech

9:45-11:00   | Panel 1: Voluntariness Jurisprudence with Professor Laura Nirider, The Hon. Seth Waxman, Professor Eve Primus, Mr. Ben Gifford.  Moderator:  Professor Jason DeSanto.

11:00-11:10 | Break

11:15-12:30 | Panel 2: Practical Challenges with Professor Steve Drizin, Mr. John Sheldon, Mr. Dean Strang, Mr. David Thompson.  Moderator: Professor Deborah Tuerkheimer.

12:30-1:30   | Lunch

1:30-2:45     | Panel 3: “Testimonial Injustice,” & the Psychology of False Confessions with Professor Jennifer Lackey, Professor Richard Leo, and Mr. Christopher Ochoa.  Moderator: Meredith Rountree.

2:45-3:00     | Break

3:00-4:15     | Panel 4: Legislative & Policy Solutions with Senator Jacqueline Collins, Mr. Andrew Vail, and Mr. Scott Drury. Moderator: Professor Steven A. Drizin.

4:15               | Closing Comments

Please direct questions to Patrick Blood and Frances Harvey, JCLC Symposium Editors:

Access CLE Written Materials at this link.


This symposium is sponsored by the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. The use of Northwestern University facilities for this event does not constitute an endorsement by the University. The views of those invited to speak on campus are the views of the speaker and not of Northwestern University. Northwestern University does not endorse or oppose any candidate or organization in connection with this or any other political campaign or election.

This symposium is supported by the Irving Gordon Symposia Fund, established in 1996 by the Gordon family, Northwestern alumni, and friends to honor the memory of Irving Gordon, a graduate of the class of 1947, and a beloved faculty member of the Law School from 1966 until his death in 1994. This symposium is also made possible by the generous support of Northwestern’s Center on Wrongful Convictions.