Vader’s Forcing Confessions

Darth Vader had a very forceful way of getting the information he wanted from people. From the opening scenes of Episode IV, we learned Vader thrived on choking others. Moreover, orders such as, “Commander, tear this ship apart until you’ve found those plans, and bring me the passengers. I want them alive!” do not endear him as someone who is not above using any means to get the answers he wants.

Vader_RevoltingJustice_0213Episode IV included a scene where Princess Leia faced a floating droid that appeared ready inject her with a truth serum.

Would that be legal under our laws?

I Have A Bad Feeling About This

The Empire and its Doctrine of Fear is not one that would protect civil rights. Its very founding was based on “security” to protect its “citizens,” not one of freedom.

Could a Republic, be it the United States or the Old Republic, force confessions from prisoners with truth serum?

The Fifth Amendment gives everyone the right in the United States to NOT “be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Moreover, the long line of cases following Miranda go to advise people of their right to remain silent, and the right to counsel, if they have been arrested.

StarWars_Forcing_Confessions_2126One of the most extreme cases involving forced confessions was from 1936, where the Supreme Court referred to an extracted confession through brutal torture as “revolting to the sense of justice.” Brown v. Mississippi, 297 U.S. 278, 286 (1936).

Truth serums administered to prisoners uniformly have been found to violate the law. Courts often refer to such compelled confessions as “police wrongdoing.” Colo. v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 165 (U.S. 1986), citing Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 298-299 (U.S. 1963).

Montana Supreme Court Justice Harrison held in State v. Allies that confessions made under the influence of a “truth serum” was not voluntary. State v. Allies, 186 Mont. 99, 115 (Mont. 1979). As the Court explained:

The pivotal issue presented here is whether the results of the sodium amytal (popularly known as truth serum) test are admissible where the recipient was without benefit or advice of counsel and had not received a Miranda warning immediately preceding the administration of the serum. We find they are not. The overwhelming weight of authority in this country still regards truth serum tests as inadmissible inasmuch as they have not attained the scientific acceptance as reliable and accurate means of ascertaining truth or deception.

Allies, at *114.

nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, – See more at:
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Many Courts will not allow any truth serum results or expert testimony over truth serum results from expert witnesses, until it is proven with “verifiable certainty that truth serum compels a person to tell the truth.” Harper v. State, 249 Ga. 519, 526 (Ga. 1982).

What does this mean for Darth Vader and Governor Tarkin ordering Leia to be injected with a truth serum? First, Vader is not getting a Father’s Day card. Second, it would not be legal in a country like the United States, which highlights the dangers of a society founded on security instead of freedom. Third, the truth serum was not effective, as Leia did not provide the location of the Rebel Base or Plans.