Stephan v. State (1985)

In Stephan v. State, 711 P.2d 1156, 1159 (Alaska 1985), the Alaska Supreme Court established the rule when it held that the due process clause of the Alaska Constitution requires recording of an interrogation "when the interrogation occurs in a place of detention and recording is feasible." In Stephan, the court concluded that a recorded interrogation "protects the defendant's constitutional rights, by providing an objective means for him to corroborate his testimony concerning the circumstances of the confession." Id. at 1161. The court expressed the view that less time would ultimately be spent in court resolving disputes over what occurred during a defendant's interrogation. Id. at 1162. The court observed as follows: "[A] recording also protects the public's interest in honest and effective law enforcement, and the individual interests of those police officers wrongfully accused of improper tactics. A recording, in many cases, will aid law enforcement efforts, by confirming the content and the voluntariness of a confession, when a defendant changes his testimony or claims falsely that his constitutional rights were violated. In any case, a recording will help trial and appellate courts to ascertain the truth." Id. at 1161.