Charlton Cited in Justice Dept. Change of Policy on Recording Interrogations

The Justice Department announced on Thursday, May 22, 2014, that the F.B.I. and other federal agencies would be required to videotape interviews with suspects in most instances. The F.B.I. had previously opposed videotaping, arguing that the tapes could reveal agents’ interrogation tactics and discourage witnesses from talking.

Paul Charlton

NAFUSA member Paul Charlton, shown right, former U.S. Attorney in Arizona, had been vocal in his opposition to the former policy during his term in office, and had reached out to Director Jim Comey’s staff urging a change. The New York Times in an article entitled In Policy Change, Justice Dept. to Require Recording of Interrogations, quotes Charlton at length on the change:

Charlton said federal prosecutors were unnecessarily losing cases because they were unable to present to jurors the most damning evidence available to them: videotaped confessions.


“The most difficult part of proving a crime is the state of mind, and that is almost always obtained through a statement of the suspect,” Mr. Charlton, now a lawyer in private practice, said in telephone interview.


“It was an unjustifiable policy,” he said. “I think this is one of the most significant improvements in the criminal justice system in a long time.”