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STATEMENT OF CHIEF ROBERT V. MURRAY (RETIRED), FORMER
CHIEF OF THE METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT
Chief MURRAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. No; I have not prepared anything. I got the call from Mr. Garber yesterday afternoon, and I promised him as soon as I got away from the dentist this morning I would come here, so I just got here.
I did tell him that about 24 days after this Mallory decision was handed down I went before a committee headed by Congressman Willis. I think it was the Judiciary Committee. And he has that statement, I believe. And at the time I made the statement, I expressed some apprehension about the Mallory decision and felt that if we continued to have to work under that decision it would just about tear down law enforcement in the District of Columbia.
Mr. WHITENER. Mr. Reporter, at this point I think we might make a part of the record Chief Murray's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, pages 32 through 44, said testimony having been given on Thursday, July 25, 1957.
(Chief Murray's testimony referred to follows:) [Excerpt from Hearings before House Judiciary: Special Subcommittee To Study Decisions
of the Supreme Court. 85th Cong., 2d sess., Part 1, Serial Nofi 12, July 25, 1957, pages 32-44)
Mr. WILLIS. Now, we are pleased and delighted to have with us as our next witness, Chief of Police Robert V. Murray of the Metropolitan Police Department.
Chief Murray, we are happy to hear from you.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT V. MURRAY, CHIEF OF POLICE, METROPOLITAX POLICE
Mr. MURRAY. My name is Robert V. Murray, and I have been serving as Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., since November 21. 1951. I have been a member of the Department for the past 27 years, 15 of which have been spent in the Detective Bureau investigating major criminal cases in the homicide, robbery, and sex squads.
I am vitally concerned with the restrictions placed on the Police Department by the Mallory decision and strongly urge the passage of legislation, such as the Keating bill, as a means of enabling the continuance of good law enforcement in this city.
My interpretation of the Mallory decision is that it practically precludes the interrogation of suspects prior to arraignment. I personally feel, however, that it is of the utmost importance that law-enforcement officers have a reasonable time to interrogate and investigate a person who has been arrested as a suspect in a crime prior to arraignment. An overwhelming majority of our serious crimes, particularly crimes of violence, have been solved through interrogation and investigation prior to arraignment. During my 27 years in the Police Department, I have known of hundreds of the most heinous crimes, such as murders, rapes, assaults, and robberies, and other major crimes, that would have remained unsolved and unpunished if the investigating officers had been restricted by the Mallory decision. To take this reasonable time away, as the decision in the Mallory case appears to do, would, in my opinion, cause a complete breakdown in law enforcement.
First, I want to stress to this committee that the Police Department is interested in safeguarding all the rights of a person accused of a crime. We certainly do not condone nor do we attempt to obtain confessions by duress, the so-called third degree, or promises of any kind. On the other hand, however, I do feel that the law-abiding public and innocent victims of crime must also be given die consideration. The Police Department is not a private army operated on the whims of the Chief of Police, but a public service body, financed by the citizens. with a sworn duty to enforce the law and to protect the lives, property, and wellbeing of all law-abiding citizens.
There are certain points I feel this committee should give consideration to in contemplating this problem:
1. O'ir records will reflect that hundreds of innocent persons would have had to be charged with serious crimes under the Mallory decision. For instance, ichere a victim of other eyewitness hus positively identified a person as the perpetrator of a crime, such person, under the Mallory decision, would have been charged and arraigned immediately. However, under the present system, opportunity is given to interrogate and investigate the subject which, in many cases, eventually leads to complete exoneration. Further, present methods leave such innocent person without a police record whereas, under the Mallory decision he would, of necessity acquire a police record. For example, in the Mallory case, itself. the two nephews of Mallory could very well have been arraigned and acquired a police record before their innocence could have been proven.
2. Because it will be practically a necessity to appronhend the criminal in the act of committing a crime or obtaining eyewitnesses to the commission of such crime to conviet a man under the Mallory decision. I feel that the professional criminal, who cunningly plans his crimes with the least possible chance of witnesses, will be the one to benefit the most by this decision. Yet these professional criminals are the very ones with whom law-enforcement officers are most concerned.
3. What effect will the Mallory decision have on felons caught committing one crime but are also guilty of many others? For instance, a housebreaker, who has been apprehended while in a home would have to be arraigned immediately urithout interrogation as to other crimes he may have committed. However, under the present system of interrogation, prior to arraignment, many of these cases which would remain unsolved are cleared by the criminal reenacting the crime or revisiting those places entered and confronting the victims. Thousands of dollars in property are recovered in this manner. After arraignment, the subject, if held, is taken into custody by the United States marshal and the police lose custody immediately.
4. I would like to cite another instance involving several defendants that presents a problem. In a particular murder case, about 2 years ago, one subject was arrested in the early morning hours and through interrogation he implicated another subject several hours later on the same day. This further led to the third subject being arrested in the early afternoon. Therefore, approximately 10 hours was required to successfully conclude this investigation. The three men then reenacted the crime at the scene and were charged and later convicted of murder. Under the Mallory decision, our investigation would have ended after the first subject had been arraigned. Yet it was the close interrogation and investigation of the first subject that led to the other two.
5. What effect will the Mallory decision also have on those guilty persons now in custody and serving time? Will the courts be flooded with appeals and other criminals released to prey on the good citizens of this community? In my opinion, the Mallory decision would cause a substantial rise in crime and a drastio reduction in the solution of major criminal cases. For many years, the percentage of criminal cases cleared by this Department has been second to no other police department in this country and it has consistently been twice the national arerage of clearance as published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If our Department is not permitted a reasonable time for the interrogation and investigation that is so necessary for good law enforcement, it will mean, in effect, that we would have to close the books on the majority of the major criminal cases at the time the crime is committed. (Emphasis added.)
In conclusion, I ask for the Police Department only that we be given this reasonable time to investigate each case and that the courts consider each case on its own merits.
Mr. WILLIS. Thank you very much, Chief Murray.
We decided to call you in order to be able to have the benefit of your long pears of experience in the law-enforcement profession.
Now, with respect to point 2 on page 3 of your statement, it brings out something very basic.
You indicate there that the Manory decision would have its greatest impact in connection with crimes perpetrated by professional criminals.
Mr. MURRAY. That is correct.
Mr. Willis. Let me see if I follow you. You take the case of, not murder premeditated and planned, but the case of manslaughter which, of course, is punishable by penitentiary confinement and in the case of manslaughter where manslanghter means the taking of human life without premeditation but under immediate response to passion and anger, the result of an insult and then a fight ensues and a man loses his life in that kind of a case you don't have much trouble in apprehending the guilty, do you?
Mr. MURRAY. No, sir.
Mr. Willis. And for the reason that it is not planned, it develops on the spur of the moment and you have witnesses.
Mr. MURRAY. That is right.
Mr. Willis. Do I understand that the Mallory decision would not cause too much trouble in these cases of fights, manslaughter, and so on in cases of hot blood or in the spur-of-the-moment type cases?
Mr. MURRAY. And where you have witnesses.
Mr. Willis. That is what I mean. The fact that they are not planned means they occur in the presence of whoever might be around, in a bar or in a home or on the street.
Consequently, as I understand it, the Mallory case causes the most trouble in the most serious crimes, that is, the planned crimes, the crimes perpetrated by professional criminals. Is that your judgment?
Mr. MURRAY. That is exactly what I mean, sir.
Mr. Willis. You pointed out in your statement, as others have previously, that part of the investigative processes are to clear the innocent as well as to aid in the prosecution of the guilty.
Mr. MURRAY. Yes.
Mr. WILLIS. Do you have any records to show that people, for some reason or another, to protect themselves, their honor, and so on, will use an alleged crime, let us say, to protect his marital status and things like that?
Mr. MURRAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. MURRAY. I think Deputy Scott checked that and he found that in the past 10 years 1,000 cases of false reports of robbery had been made to the police where someone reported a robbery where he was handling someone else's money or he may have lost his money gambling and had to do some accounting for it at home.
There are many reasons that they will make false reports, and we have cases where men have been positively identified by witnesses as being the perpetrator of a crime, but upon investigation, running out his story, he was found to be entirely innocent, which I think would work a hardship on a great many innocent people if we had to take them right over and charge them and they would have a police record. They may be able to prove their innocence and they might do it in court later.
Mr. WILLIS. You might have a case where a man gets his paycheck on a Saturday afternoon and he gets a few beers or gambles and doesn't bring the check home and, as an alibi to the Missus, he says he has been robbed.
Mr. MURRAY. He has to make an accounting at home and he will report, in many cases, he has been robbed.
I remember in 1 year that I had spent on the robbery squad, I found 125 persons made false reports of robbery in 1 year.
Mr. WILLIS. You filed charges against how many ?
Mr. MURRAY. That they had been robbed, when they had actually not been robbed.
Mr. WILLIS. You are familiar with the rule, are you not, that a confession to be admissible must be voluntary?
Mr. MURRAY. I have handled many, many large criminal cases in the courts and, as you stated, when Congressman Keating was testifying, where a question is raised about a confession by the defendant or his attorney, the admissibility of the question is gone into very thoroughly by the trial judge out of the presence of the jury.
I cannot recall a single case where the judge threw the confession out because it was involuntary. I don't remember a case.
Mr. WILLIS. In your entire experience as a police officer?
Mr. Willis. But cases that you handled yourself or that you supervised, you can say that over these years when the judge had to consider whether or not, outside of the presence of the jury, that the jury should hear the confession, that in no instance do you recall that the judge ruled out the confession for the reason that it was involuntary?
Mr. MURRAY. No, sir; I do not know of a single case.
Mr. WILLIS. That does not mean, does it, that in many, many cases where the judge rules a confession to be voluntary that the jury will find him guilty or will find him not guilty ?
Mr. MURRAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. WILLIS. But, then, you are left in the dark as to the reasons why the jury acquits him.
Mr. MURRAY. That is correct. You never know why they acquit, and in some cases where you have a codefendant that will take the stand and testify favorably to the Government's case, the jury may still come back and find not guilty.
I have had cases like that.
"Mallory, you are being held in connection with the complaints of Mrs. and then they have the name of the person.
** * * while in the basement of premises 1223 Twelfth Street NW., you did rape her."
"You are now requested to give a statement of any facts known to you in connection with this matter. However, you are first advised that you are not compelled to make a statement, are not promised any favor or consideration for making one and do so of your own free will. If necessary, the statement you make will be used for or against you in court at your trial. Having been 80 advised, do you wish to make a statment?". The reply was: “I want to.” Mr. MURRAY. Yes, sir. Mr. WILLIS. Now, tell us about the practice of your Department in connection with obtaining a confession, whether this is the usual, the unusual, the normal, the extraordinary, or what?
Mr. MURRAY. Mr. Chairman, in my experience in major criminal cases, there have been very few times that a man is going to come in and testify that he committed a crime that is going to send him to the penitentiary or maybe to the electric chair.
He has to be shown that you have some evidence or that he was lying to you. In other words, you have to run out his story that he gives you. He may have an alibi and after you run his alibi out and find out that he has lied to you and confront him with it, very often they will tell you the story.
I know of one case some years ago where a man had committed not one murder but several rape murders, and when he confessed, entirely voluntarily, he would want to talk to any police officer and tell him about the other cases. He said he wanted to get it off his chest.
Of course, once they go to jail or get a lawyer, the lawyer is going to advise him not to implicate himself in a crime. I think any attorney will tell a client not to implicate himself in a crime.
Mr. Willis. What I am coming now specifically to, this passage from the confession that I read, is that warning given to the accused or to the subject in every case?
Mr. MURRAY. In every homicide, robbery; I would say every serious case it is; jes, sir, where a typewritten statement is taken.
Mr. CRAMER. When is the suspect, customarily in your procedure, advised as to his rights?
Mr. MURRAY. When the typewritten statement is taken. Mr. CRAMEB. In the Mallory case, itself, he orally confessed? Mr. MURRAY. Yes. Mr. CRAMER. And then he subsequently signed this written confession ? Mr. MURRAY. That is right. Mr. CRAMER. He was advised of his rights at the time prior to his signature on the statement ?
Mr. MURRAY. At the very outset of the typewritten statement that was read to him, and then he said he did want to ake a statement. Mr. CRAMER. In other words, he was not advised as to the effect of his statement before his initial oral statement?
Mr. MURRAY. No. Mr. CRAMER. Could you explain why, as a matter of police practice, that is done in that fashion?
Mr. MURRAY. I think as we go out and pick up a man for rape or murder and if we tell him, in effect, that anything you tell me may be sufficient to put you in jail, I don't think he is going to tell us very much.
I think in the public interest that we do try to get the truth from him voluntarily.
If as soon as we pick him up we say to him, “Don't implicate yourself in this crime," you are not going to have very many crimes that are cleared.
Mr. CRAMER. As a matter of fact, in the Mallory case, itself, there was nothing in the Supreme Court decision indicating there was coercion of any sort used.
Mr. MURRAY. Oh, no.
Mr. CRAMER. To get either the initial voluntary oral statement or this written statement, other than the period of time involved ?
Mr. MURRAY. The sole issue in the decision, itself, I think they state that the man was fed and they don't allege any abuse or mistreatment and there was none in that case or any case that I know of.
Mr. WILLIS. The fact that he was examined by the Coroner, and the Supreme Court read the examination of the Coroner, no emotional or physical coercion was evidenced.
Mr. Murray. For our own protection and for the protection of the case, itself, the taking of a confession in any case that might result in a death penalty, such as rape or murder, we always have the Coroner or one of the Deputy Coroners come in and examine the man, talk to him, to make sure that he cannot later say that he was abused or mistreated.
Mr. WILLI8. Oh, so you do have a third party interpose in a serious case of the type you have described ?
Mr. MURRAY. Yes, sir.
Mr. Willis. Who examines the person to find out whether he can later claim that there was third degree, coercion, or whatnot?
Mr. MURRAY. Yes, sir.
Also, I would like to point out for the benefit of this committee that in talking to, interrogating these subjects, suspects in cases, it is never done behind locked doors. It is always in an open office. The newspaper people can come in there when we are talking to any subject. That has been a practice over the years,
We don't let them sit in and hear the statements, but they can go into the room. We do that, too, to protect the case.
Mr. Willis. In other words, they can look at the persons?
Mr. MURRAY. That is right. No matter how important a case, no one is erer questioned behind locked doors.
Mr. WILLIS. Mr. Crainer?
Mr. CRAMER. Proceeding further on that, and referring specifically to the Mallory case circumstances, Mallory and his nephews were apprehended at 2:30. He was questioned then for about 30 or 45 minutes after he was apprehended, at which time he denied his guilt.
The reason I am bringing this out is to get your opinion as to whether, under these circumstances, this period of time was reasonable so far as police practice is concerned in that then in the afternoon they attempted to get a lie detector test which he agreed to?
Mr. MURRAY. Yes.
Mr. CRAMER. It took them 2 hours to get someone to operate the lie detector, and they had to examine all 3 of them. It was about 8 o'clock when they examined Mallory, himself, from 8 o'clock to 9:30, and he volunteered willingly to take the lie detector test and willingly submitted to the interrogation.
Then, at 10 o'clock he gave his written statement. This was a period of 712 hours.
Now, under circumstances with other people being involved, lie detector tests, and so forth, in your experience is that length of time necessary?
Mr. MURRAY. Yes, sir; and I think that the officers working on the case did a very fine job in order to clear it up and have it ready for court in 744 hours.
Now, as I said in my statement, each case would have to rest on its own merits. Some might be straightened out in an hour or 2 hours.
The 1 case I mentioned where there were 3 subjects involved, it took 10 hours before we arrested the third man, We did not know about it.
Mr. CRAMER. An effort to lay down a rule with regard to any specific period of time so far as police practice is concerned would be very detrimental to you?
Mr. MURRAY. That is right. And, again, I want to stress that all we ask is a reasonable time that will stand the test of being reasonable before a court.
Mr. CRAMER. Under this decision, assume that you arrest three people who are suspects. Let us take a murder case. You arrest three people as suspects.